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Life satisfaction in Malawi and the importance of relative consumption, polygamy and religion


  • Tim Hinks

    (University of Bath, Bath, UK)

  • Simon Davies

    (Department of Economics and International Development, University of Bath, Bath, UK)


Happiness equations for Malawi are estimated using a new household survey. It is apparent that absolute consumption level is strongly associated with satisfaction. Both objective and subjective relative consumption in the neighbourhood is positively associated with satisfaction. Male satisfaction is associated strongly with relative consumption but female satisfaction is not. Separated or widowed females are less happy than males indicating a vulnerability that acts as a disincentive to leave husbands during marital problems. Polygamous females in traditional religions are less satisfied than other females whilst there is some evidence that male Muslims in polygamous relationships are more satisfied. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Suggested Citation

  • Tim Hinks & Simon Davies, 2008. "Life satisfaction in Malawi and the importance of relative consumption, polygamy and religion," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(7), pages 888-904.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:jintdv:v:20:y:2008:i:7:p:888-904 DOI: 10.1002/jid.1470

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Alem, Yonas & Colmer, Jonathan, 2013. "Optimal Expectations and the Welfare Cost of Climate Variability," Working Papers in Economics 578, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
    2. Monica Guillen-Royo & Laura Camfield & Jackeline Velazco, 2013. "Universal and Local Reconciled: Exploring Satisfaction with Universal and Local Goals in Thailand and Bangladesh," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 113(2), pages 627-645, September.
    3. Yonas Alem & Jonathan Colmer, 2013. "Don't Worry, Be Happy: The Welfare Cost of Climate Variability � A Subjective Well-Being Approach," GRI Working Papers 118, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.

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