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African Social Science Review

Abstract

Child fostering – that is, the practice of children living under the care of adults who are not their parents – is pervasive in many African societies. Using data from the 2012/2013 Ghana Living Standards Survey, this analysis examines the determinants of child fostering, with a view to identifying any economic underpinnings. The study’s findings suggest that households employ the fostering-in of children to adjust their size and composition, as well as meet their demand for labor. The results are also indicative that fostered and biological children may largely be treated as substitutes in household decision-making. The findings therefore support the view that child fostering decisions in the developing world are often consistent with rational economic reasoning. These findings have policy implications for the design of social interventions that have a direct bearing on household livelihoods.

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