Risk, Network Quality, and Family Structure: Child Fostering Decisions in Burkina Faso

44 Pages Posted: 24 Jan 2005

See all articles by Richard Akresh

Richard Akresh

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: January 2005


Researchers often assume household structure is exogenous, but child fostering, the institution in which parents send their biological children to live with another family, is widespread in sub-Saharan Africa and provides evidence against this assumption. Using data I collected in Burkina Faso, I analyze a household's decision to adjust its size and composition through fostering. A household fosters children as a risk-coping mechanism in response to exogenous income shocks, if it has a good social network, and to satisfy labor demands within the household. Increases of one standard deviation in a household's agricultural shock, percentage of good network members, or number of older girls increase the probability of sending a child above the current fostering level by 29.1, 30.0, and 34.5 percent, respectively. Testing whether factors influencing the sending decision have an opposite impact on the receiving decision leads to a rejection of the symmetric, theoretical model for child fostering.

Keywords: Child fostering, risk-coping, social networks, household structure

JEL Classification: O15, J12, D10

Suggested Citation

Akresh, Richard, Risk, Network Quality, and Family Structure: Child Fostering Decisions in Burkina Faso (January 2005). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=643163 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.643163

Richard Akresh (Contact Author)

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ( email )

601 E John St
Champaign, IL Champaign 61820
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072

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