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Fostering and fertility: (re) examining child fostering as a determinate of fertility preferences

Lauren Bachan, Pennsylvania State University
Jenny Trinitapoli, Pennsylvania State University

Voluntary child fostering—the practice of placing children in other households—is a long-standing practice throughout much of sub-Saharan Africa. Theoretical and empirical evidence suggests that child fostering diffuses childrearing responsibilities, thereby contributing to the high levels of fertility found in the region. However, recent regional dynamics threaten to alter this relationship. Some scholars have speculated that the AIDS epidemic is eroding community and familial networks—institutions that are fundamental to voluntary child fostering practices. Using an ongoing panel study in Malawi, the current study aims to quantitatively model the relationship between fostering responsibilities and fertility preferences in order to further understand how this relationship is currently operating.

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Presented in Session 47: Fertility desires: measurement, determinants, and consequences