Children’s Living Arrangements and Gender Differences in Parental Support in Rural Malawi

Sara Yeatman, University of Texas at Austin

Child fostering is a common practice throughout sub-Saharan Africa that has long preceded the AIDS epidemic. However, little is known about the context of non-orphan child fostering in the areas most afflicted by HIV/AIDS. In this paper, we examine the patterns and circumstances of child fostering in rural Malawi using unique household data from the 2006 round of the Malawi Diffusion and Ideational Change Project, supplemented with data from in-depth interviews. These data provide a rare opportunity to examine children’s living arrangements and their association with parental and household characteristics, including HIV status. Our research is guided by three hypotheses: (1) fostering out of non-orphans is widespread in Malawi; (2) fostering and parental support are gendered and will vary by patterns of descent; and (3) HIV/AIDS and its consequences for families are influencing the extent and nature of this type of fostering.

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Presented in Session 93: Generational Exchanges and Relationships: Grandparents and Grandchildren