Family Structure and Child Mortality in Tanzania

Lauren Gaydosh, Princeton University

To date, the majority of contemporary research, policy programming, and popular press on families and children in Africa focuses on orphanhood, primarily as resulting from high prime-age adult mortality due to the AIDS epidemic. However, children are at greater risk of experiencing parental absence due to reasons other than parental death. While more children experience absence due to migration and marriage-related absence, we actually know little about how these kinds of absence influence children’s well-being. While there is a robust literature examining divorce and remarriage in the United States, in the African context we know little about the experience of children who do not reside with their parents due to these factors. Different causes of absence represent varied experiences and may present vastly different advantages or disadvantages. This paper examines the consequences of different types of absence on child mortality using demographic surveillance data from Tanzania.

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Presented in Session 3: Innovative Methods and Assessment of Maternal and Child Health Data