Economists find that parental death is bad for children's well-being

In a new paper looking at children aged from nine to 17 during the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, economists have found that parental death is linked with lower child well-being (paper).

Identifying the impact of parental death on the well-being of children is complicated because parental death is likely to be correlated with other, unobserved, factors that affect child well-being.

While children who were older at the time have suffered five years after losing their parents, the impact on younger children has been less marked.

We conclude that these older male orphans are likely to carry the costs of the tsunami into adulthood and possibly through the rest of their lives.

Unsurprisingly, double-orphans are the most vulnerable, at least in the context of this tsunami. Five years after the disaster, younger female children who lost both parents are 51 percentage points less likely to be in school. Older female orphans are 55 percentage points less likely to be in school.