Measuring Social Connections and Child Well-Being in Agincourt, South Africa

Casey Blalock, University of Colorado at Boulder

A great volume of research demonstrates that social connection is an important determinant of child well-being, yet few studies attend to the full range of social relationships inside and outside the household, the content of these relationships, or the patterns of substitution emerging after the loss of a preferred source of support. To redress this failure, this paper assesses the impact of co-resident and non-resident mothers, fathers and grandmothers on children living in the rural Agincourt area of South Africa, where rising HIV/AIDS rates threaten the primary caregiver role played by mothers. We take advantage of 15 years of data from the Agincourt Health and Demogrphic Surveillance System (HDSS) by using existing histories of past coresidence and migration to construct networks of resident and non-resident kin. We relate these measures to several indicators of child well-being (i.e., nutritional security, school achievement) and assess the representativeness of the social network database.

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Presented in Poster Session 3