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Non-kin alloparents and child outcomes: Older siblings, but not godparents, predict educational attainment in a rural context

Hubbard, E.B., Shannon, O., & Pisor, A.C. (2023)

Evolution & Human Behavior

Data and Code

Despite increasing evidence of non-kin contributions to cooperative childrearing, explicit investigation of non-kin allomaternal care remains rare, meaning we have little data to evaluate why non-kin provide care and whether non-kin investment translates into benefits for mothers or children. Here, we examine the role of godparents—kin and non-kin allomothers that often invest in both mothers and children—to investigate whether having a godparent translates into benefits in terms of the godchild’s educational attainment. Among adults in two rural Bolivian communities, we find that having a godparent, whether kin or non-kin and regardless of where they live, does not predict years of education, finishing high school, or pursuing higher education. Instead, having more older siblings predicted educational attainment on all these dimensions. We make recommendations for how field researchers can better assess the impact of non-kin allomothers in future research.