Competitive or Complementary? The Relationship between Orphanhood and Child Fostering in Sub-Saharan Africa

Monica J. Grant, University of Pennsylvania
Sara E. Yeatman, University of Colorado, Denver

Sub-Saharan Africa has a long history of child fostering. In countries most afflicted by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, orphanhood has increased dramatically, but many of its consequences have been mitigated by the ability of households to absorb orphans. In this paper, we examine what the rising levels of orphanhood mean for the common practice of elected child fostering. In particular, we ask whether the growing number of orphans is displacing opportunities for other forms of fostering or whether they are complementary and households are able to absorb both. We use the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHSs) from the 18 countries with at least two surveys to examine changes in fostering patterns over time. We then use fixed effects models to examine how orphanhood and fostering patterns vary by community-level HIV prevalence using the 16 Sub-Saharan countries that included HIV testing on their most recent DHS.

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Presented in Session 72: Orphans, Adoption and Fostering