HIV/AIDS, Parental Death, and Child Schooling in Southern Africa

Erin Parker, Brown University
Rachel Goldberg, Brown University

The HIV/AIDS situation in Southern Africa is one of the most pressing global health concerns today. Across Southern African countries, between 19% and 33% of adults 15-49 years are infected with the virus. Effective diagnosis and treatment has lagged, and life expectancy is low. Life expectancy at birth now ranges between 34 and 47 years in Southern African countries. Drawing on the 2004 DHS data and over 100 in-depth interviews completed with caregivers and children, we investigate the relationship between parental death and schooling in Lesotho, where roughly 35% of children 6-16 have experienced the death of at least one parent. We confirm that living arrangements condition the effects of death on schooling. However, we show that more than the relationship to a household head matters. Caregiving and headship are gendered. Thus, social roles in this context help to clarify how and when parental death has adverse consequences for children.

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Presented in Poster Session 4