Older adults in sub-Saharan Africa living with children and grandchildren

Document Type

Article (peer-reviewed)

Publication Date



Using data from Demographic and Health Surveys, we examine the composition of households containing older adults in 24 countries of sub-Saharan Africa, with a focus on those living with children and grandchildren. Overall, 59 per cent live with a child and 46 per cent with a grandchild. Men are more likely to live in nuclear households and women in extended households and alone. Regression analyses show that individual-level determinants of household composition differ by sex. For example, living with children and grandchildren is tied to living with a spouse for men, but for women the effect is either not significant or in the opposite direction. Households with an older adult and a grandchild, but no adult children, are common. Usually the adult child lives elsewhere, though about 8 per cent of older adults live with a grandchild who has at least one deceased parent. Older adults are more likely to be living with double-orphans in countries with high AIDS-related mortality.