Measuring Kinship Support for Children of Single Mothers in Nairobi, Kenya
A strikingly large number of African children - up to 60% in some countries - do not co-reside with biological fathers. Most of these children are raised by single mothers, defined as women who are not married, cohabiting or in a socially recognized relationship with the biological or non-biological father of their children. The welfare of these children, however, has generated little concern as studies tend to emphasize the critical compensating role of extended kin in child rearing throughout Africa. It is often assumed that a large and supportive kin network will buffer against any negative effects of single motherhood on children's well-being. However, this assumption may be false. A recent study found that children of single mothers were significantly more likely to die before the age of five than children of mothers in union in 11 countries in Africa. Limited or inadequate support from extended kin may help explain these outcomes, but currently no data exists to rigorously investigate such a claim. In this pilot study, we have developed and administered an innovative survey instrument - Kinship Support Tree - designed to capture time- and space- varying measures of kinship support for single mothers and their young children in an urban context in Kenya characterized by low-income and high circular migration.
Unit of Analysis
Single mothers with at least one child under the age of 7 residing in Korogocho
Producers and sponsors
Authoring entity/Primary investigators
African Population and Health Research Centre
University of Maryland College Park
University of Maryland
McGill University, Montreal
University of Maryland
Eunice Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
- Random sample of 500 children aged 0-5 who live with single mothers. In total, 462 single mothers with at least one child under the age of 7 residing in Korogocho were interviewed.
- Kin Sample: 5,344 close kin (co-resident and non-resident)
Dates of Data Collection (YYYY/MM/DD)
Mode of data collection
Ten fieldworkers were recruited and divided in two teams with each comprising one supervisor and four interviewers.
Interviewers had the primary contact with respondents and did actual interviews. The supervisors were in-charge of assigning duties and ensuring the adherence to quality standards. To enhance the quality of data, the following measures were implemented:
1. Detailed training of field staff.
2. Supervisors carried out shadow interviews. A total of 18 shadow interviews were conducted with supervisors giving feedback to each of the interviewers.
3. Spot checks by the Research Officer and supervisors. This is where specific questions or issues are followed up with the respondent.
4. A system of error checking logs: Frequent reports on errors and inconsistencies are produced and sent to the field team for verification and possible correction. This was a coordinated effort between the office teams (both at APHRC and University of Maryland) and the field team.
The field team conducted meetings twice in a week to address any issues that arose. The other persons involved in the project kept abreast with the progress of data collection using frequent emails and weekly Skype calls.
Type of Research Instrument
Demographic attributes of mothers and close kin
Geo-spatial attributes of kin
Type and quantity of support provided to mother and child from kin
Child health and cognitive development
Once data collected on the Tablets, they were uploaded to the APHRC servers on a daily basis where they were pre-processed before being merged into the main database. The data were stored with password and access-restricted servers at the central offices. All Tablets had SQL backup databases purged at the end of data collection.
Head, Statistics and Survey Unit
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African Population and Health Research Center, Measuring Kinship Support for Children of Single Mothers in Nairobi, Kenya, December 2016. APHRC, Nairobi - Kenya.
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