Socio-economic Status and Socio-emotional Health of Orphans in South Africa.


This paper investigates the relationship between socio-economic status and emotional well-being of orphans in Mangaung, South Africa. Five hundred orphans aged 7-11 years participated in the cross-sectional study between 2009 and 2012. Data was collected by trained fieldworkers, who conducted face-to-face interviews and questionnaires with the orphans, their teachers and caregivers, and the heads of the households where the orphans resided. The caregivers, children and teachers all completed the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire in order to measure the orphans’ mental health, while heads of household provided information about socio-economic indicators. STATA version 12 was used to perform multivariate data analyses to identify socio-economic factors associated with the mental health of orphans. Food security, access to medical services and a male caregiver were factors associated with better emotional well-being of orphans, whereas other variables such as household asset index and monthly household expenditure were not linked with the orphans’ mental health. Two of the three variables (food security and access to medical services) associated with better emotional well-being of orphans are also government interventions to assist orphans. Further research is needed to determine whether other government programs also impact the emotional well-being of orphans.