Poverty, AIDS and Children's Welfare: A Targeting Dilemma

Martha Ainsworth, World Bank Group
Deon P. Filmer, World Bank Group

AIDS and conflict are affecting poor countries with low human capital. Within these countries, children who are orphaned or live in households with adult deaths are believed to have lower schooling and nutritional status, reducing the prospects for future poverty alleviation. What is less clear is whether orphaned children are worse off than other poor, under-schooled, and malnourished children - requiring targeted interventions - or whether the impact is to swell the population of poor children whose welfare can be addressed through existing anti-poverty programs. We compare the relation between orphan status, poverty, enrollment, and stunting, for children in 28 low- and middle-income countries hard-hit by AIDS in three regions, using data from 38 DHS and living standards surveys and wealth indices based on household asset ownership. The results reveal substantial heterogeneity in the relation between poverty and human capital outcomes for orphans and suggest that strategies targeting poor children often dominate.

Presented in Session 11: Social and Economic Consequences of the AIDS Epidemic