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Separated from their parents: consequences for child well-being in modern Senegal

Sara Randall, University College London
Alioune Diagne, Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD)

Many West African children spend much of their childhood separated from their parents. Fostering brings both benefits and disadvantages for the fostered children and their kin groups. The massive increase in male migration to Europe has generated new forms of parent-child separation, which combine new demands for schooling, money and material goods with increased pressure on parents to be involved personally in child-upbringing to avoid delinquency. Using qualitative in-depth interviews collected in 2007 in a Senegalese town with substantial male migration to Europe, we compare the impacts of fostering or having a migrant father, on dimensions of childhood such as schooling and happiness. We show how the outcomes of both processes are highly gendered. Whereas fostering supports the extensive kin networks and support solidarity, absence of migrant fathers is more problematic in a context of rapid social change, new expectations of parent-child relationships and declining fertility.

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Presented in Session 217: Demographic processes and outcomes for children in sub-Saharan Africa