Orphans in Three Sahelian Countries: Exploratory Analyses from Census Data


  • Richard Marcoux Université Laval, Québec City Québec
  • Amadou Noumbissi University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Pennsylvania
  • Tukufu Zuberi University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Pennsylvania




Important investments in Africa have reduced slightly the levels child mortality but life expectancy still very low. The number of children without surviving biological parents is increasing and orphans are becoming an important social problem. Because Sahelian societies are mostly patriarchal, becoming fatherless or motherless will have different effects on the well being of the child. This paper examines the levels and trends of the survival status of the parents and then, living arrangements of orphans. We describe characteristics of these children with a special focus on education and economic activities. The paper uses the censuses from Chad, Niger and Senegal made available by the African Census Analysis Project (ACAP) held at University of Pennsylvania. These countries collected information on survival status of each biological parent to estimate adult mortality but the potential of this information for research on child well-being is rarely exploited.