Review of Economics of the Household

, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 641–662 | Cite as

Orphans at risk in sub-Saharan Africa: evidence on educational and health outcomes

  • Katja Coneus
  • Andrea M. Mühlenweg
  • Holger Stichnoth


Based on comparable data for eleven sub-Saharan African countries with especially high rates of orphanhood, we examine how orphanhood affects children’s educational and health outcomes. Using household fixed-effects to control for influences at the household level, we show that orphans do not only fare worse than non-orphans because they tend to live in poorer households, but that they are also at a disadvantage compared to non-orphans within the same household. They lag behind in education and are more often malnourished and stunted. (The coefficients on the health outcomes are only statistically significant for some of the countries and some of the health measures, however.) Moreover, we show that non-orphaned children not living with a biological parent are also worse off compared to biological children of the same caregivers. Educational gaps are particularly evident for children whose mother is deceased or absent. The additional effect of paternal death or absence is rather modest or insignificant in most countries.


Orphans Family structure Human capital Sub-Saharan Africa Household fixed-effects 

JEL Classification

I12 I21 J24 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katja Coneus
    • 2
  • Andrea M. Mühlenweg
    • 1
    • 2
  • Holger Stichnoth
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Labour EconomicsLeibniz University HannoverHannoverGermany
  2. 2.Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW) MannheimMannheimGermany

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