The Effects of Living Arrangements with Fathers on Child Health in Lesotho

Thandie Hlabana, Brown University

Fatherhood literature stresses the importance of father-child co-residence for better child outcomes. In an environment where many children live most of their childhood without their fathers due to labor migration, child fosterage and paternal death, it is important to understand whether this relationship holds. If it does, what are the factors that diminish the negative effects of father absence on child outcomes? Specifically, this research aims to understand the effects of non-co-residence with biological fathers on children’s nutritional status, as well as the role that might be played by other adult male relatives co-resident with children on children’s nutritional status. Contrary to Western experience, children with absent fathers fared better than their counterparts with present fathers in Lesotho. These results highlight the importance of using household membership rather than just co-residence to understand children’s connection with their fathers in this context.

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Presented in Session 113: Cross-National Differences in the Influence of Context on Children's Well-Being