NYU Steinhardt News

Aber Receives $2.3 Million Grant from NIH for South Africa Study

Larry Aber, professor of applied psychology and public policy, has been awarded a $2.3 million grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (a division of the National Institutes of Health) for a 3-year longitudinal study entitled "Well-being of South African Children: Household, Community, and Policy Influences."

Two senior colleagues--LaRue Allen, director of the Child and Family Policy Center at NYU, and Linda Richter, executive director of the Child, Youth, Family and Social Development program at the Human Sciences Research Council in South Africa--will serve as co-investigators.

The grant will be administered by NYU Steinhardt's Institute of Human Development and Social Change.

Sixty percent of South African children live in households with incomes under US$2000 per year. By the end of 2005, South Africa had more adults and children (5.3 million) living with HIV/AIDS than any other country in the world. Recent estimates are that 14.4 percent of all children ages 2 to 18 have lost one or both parents.

In order to better understand these conditions, Aber, Allen, and Richter will research how household poverty and parental illness and death affect South African children's well-being and life chances.

In addition, the study will test the influence of a new antipoverty strategy - conditional cash transfers - on children's psychosocial, educational, and health status.

The conditional cash transfer, paid directly to the poorest families in communities affected by HIV/AIDS, has emerged as a strong policy option to mitigate the impacts of the combined effects of poverty and disease.

The research team will follow 6,000 7- to 10-year olds for three years in 60 communities with high concentrations of both household poverty and parental illness and death.

Children's outcomes will be examined as a function of community-level factors (e.g. policies, resources, norms), household factors (e.g. poverty and illness) and adverse childhood experiences (e.g. lack of food, withdrawal from school).

The project is a collaboration of researchers at New York University and the Human Sciences Research Council in South Africa in cooperation with the South African government and the World Bank.