Paola Villar, Paternal Mortality, Early Marriages and Marital Outcomes in Senegal, World Development, Volume 142, 105421, 2021.




Does paternal mortality affect the timing of daughters’ first marriages? Using a Senegalese household survey with rich individual retrospective information, I study the effect of the father’s loss on the likelihood of the young daughters to be married as child brides and on other outcomes linked to women’s well-being. I find that paternal orphans are 38% more at risk to be married as child brides, conditional on observables, and this increase is driven mostly by adolescent girls at time of orphanhood. These young brides are also more likely to be teenaged mothers. However, paternal orphans face higher divorce rates than their non-orphan counterparts, and divorced orphans benefit from higher consumption levels than non-divorced orphans. Regarding alternative strategies to cope with the father’s loss, my results show that younger orphans are more likely to be fostered, while no impact is found on educational outcomes or child labor activities. Finally, I follow the methodology proposed by Oster (2019) to assess some bounds of my coefficients when accounting for selection on unobservables and show that my results are quite stable.

J12, 055, J13

JEL classification
Orphanhood, Women, Early marriage, Africa, Marriage


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