Survival of Orphans: An Example from Southern Zambia
Samuel J. Clark, University of Colorado at Boulder and University of the Witwatersrand
The HIV/AIDS pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa is producing large numbers of orphans who are at increased risk of dying, even if they do not acquire HIV from their mothers. If the magnitude of the excess risk associated with orphanhood is non-negligible, overall child mortality in sub-Saharan African countries with high HIV prevalence will increase significantly simply because larger fractions of young children will be orphans. Using detailed data from prospective community studies in Zambia and South Africa, this paper quantifies the excess risk of dying experienced by children who lose one or both of their parents. Preliminary findings from the Zambia site demonstrate a nearly seven-fold increase in the likelihood of dying for children younger than ten years during the year of a mother's death, and a nearly two-fold increase during the year of a father's death. These translate into exceptionally low survival probabilities for young orphans.