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Women Left Behind? Poverty and Headship in Africa

Author

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  • Annamaria Milazzo

    (The World Bank)

  • Dominique Walle

    () (The World Bank)

Abstract

Abstract Two stylized facts about poverty in Africa motivate this article: female-headed households tend to be poorer, and poverty has been falling in the aggregate since the 1990s. These facts raise two questions. First, how have female-headed households fared? Second, what role have they played in Africa’s impressive recent aggregate growth and poverty reduction? Using data covering the entire region, we reexamine the current prevalence and characteristics of female-headed households and ask whether their prevalence has been rising, what factors have been associated with such changes since the mid-1990s, and whether poverty has fallen equiproportionately for male- and female-headed households. Lower female headship is associated with higher gross domestic product. However, other subtle transformations occurring across Africa—changes in marriage behavior, family formation, health, and education—are positively related to female headship, resulting in a growing share of female-headed households. This shift has been happening alongside declining aggregate poverty incidence. However, rather than being left behind, female-headed households have generally seen faster poverty reduction. As a whole, this group has contributed substantially to the reduction in poverty despite their smaller share in the population.

Suggested Citation

  • Annamaria Milazzo & Dominique Walle, 2017. "Women Left Behind? Poverty and Headship in Africa," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 54(3), pages 1119-1145, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:demogr:v:54:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s13524-017-0561-7
    DOI: 10.1007/s13524-017-0561-7
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    Cited by:

    1. Ashwini Sebastian & Ana Paula de la O Campos & Silvio Daidone & Benjamin Davis & Ousmane Niang & Luca Pellerano, 2016. "Gender differences in child investment behaviour among agricultural households: Evidence from the Lesotho Child Grants Programme," WIDER Working Paper Series 107, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    2. repec:ebl:ecbull:eb-17-00446 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Kathleen Beegle & Luc Christiaensen & Andrew Dabalen & Isis Gaddis, 2016. "Poverty in a Rising Africa," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 22575, September.

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