Father figures: the progress at school of orphans in South Africa.


Objective: To examine the progress in their schooling of maternal and paternal orphans in a province of South Africa with high AIDS mortality and contrast it with that of both children who lived in different households from their parents and children who resided with their parents. Methods: The KwaZulu-Natal Income Dynamics Study is a panel of households first interviewed in 1993. The 1998 and 2004 waves of fieldwork collected 5477 reports on children aged 8-20 years. We studied the determinants of the proportion of these children who had completed 2+ grades fewer than expected for their year of birth using both household fixed-effects models and difference-in-difference models fitted to children reported on twice. Results: Co-residence with a well-educated mother benefited children's schooling, but the fixed-effects models provide no evidence that maternal orphanhood or living apart from their mother adversely affected children's schooling. In contrast, both paternal orphanhood and belonging to a different household from one's father resulted in slower progress at school. Although absence of the father was associated with household poverty, this was not why it was associated with falling behind at school. Discussion: Both the substantial benefits of living with their fathers for children's schooling and the limited importance of maternal orphanhood conflict with the results of most studies in this issue, including those of other research in the same part of South Africa. These findings caution against drawing general conclusions about the impact of the AIDS epidemic from a few studies of geographically localized populations.


Timaeus, I.M.; Boler, T. Father figures: the progress at school of orphans in South Africa. AIDS (2007) 21 (Suppl 7) S83-S93. [DOI: 10.1097/01.aids.0000300539.35720.a0]

Father figures: the progress at school of orphans in South Africa.

Published 1 January 2007