Does Timing of Orphanhood and HIV Prevalence Matter? A Look at Orphans’ Transitions to Sexual Debut and Marriage in Four Sub-Saharan African Countries

Sophia Chae, University of Pennsylvania

Debate exists as to whether orphaned adolescents are more vulnerable than their non-orphaned peers to early sexual debut and marriage. I revisit this question by using data from the National Survey of Adolescents 2004, which targets adolescents, 12-19 years, in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Malawi, and Uganda. Contrary to previous studies, I explore whether timing of orphanhood and HIV prevalence matters. I also hypothesize that educational differences may explain orphans’ greater risk of these outcomes. Results indicate that female double orphans are vulnerable to early sexual debut; however, male orphans, of any type, are not at increased risk. Education explains very little, if any, of female double orphans’ greater vulnerability. While female orphans are not more likely to marry early in three out of four countries, those who became paternal and double orphans before age 10 are more likely to marry in Uganda. Education explains some portion of this increased risk.

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Presented in Session 46: Transition to Adulthood in Sub-Saharan Africa