Working Paper 44. The Impact of Parental Death on Schooling and Subjective Well-being: Evidence from Ethiopia using Longitudinal Data.


This paper investigates whether the death of a parent during middle childhood affects child schooling and subjective well-being (SWB) in Ethiopia. The data comes from two rounds of the Young Lives survey, conducted in 2002 and 2006, of an initial sample of 1000 children across 20 sentinel sites in Ethiopia. The children were 7 to 8 years of age in 2002 and 11 to 12 years of age in 2006, with around 80 losing a parent between rounds. The research finds that the mother dying reduces school enrolment significantly by around 20 per cent. It also increases the chance that a child cannot write at all (even with difficulty) by around 21 percent, and cannot read at all or can read only letters (rather than words or sentences) by around 27 per cent, compared to if the mother had not died. In contrast, the father dying seems to negatively affect a child's sense of optimism about the future, even though they feel they are treated with greater fairness and respect than had their father not died. A child's gender does not affect the results. A change in caregiver between rounds seems to explain only a part of the lower outcomes. These findings have significant policy implications for Ethiopia where parental death has become a very potent shock that children are likely to face in middle childhood.

A separate 1-page Research Summary, which presents the main findings and policy implications of the Working Paper in easily understood language, is also attached.


Young Lives, Department of International Development at the University of Oxford, UK. ISBN: 978-1-904427-48-3, 36 pp. + research summary

Published 1 January 2009