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Gender Equality in the Family Can Reduce the Malaria Burden in Malawi


  • Klein, Matthew J.

    (U of Wisconsin-Madison)

  • Barham, Bradford L.

    (U of Wisconsin-Madison)

  • Wu, Yuexuan

    (U of California, Davis)


We provide the first empirical evidence that increasing equality between decision makers in a family reduces malaria transmission in Malawi. International organizations and the Malawi government have invested more than one hundred million dollars to reduce the disease burden in the past decade, successfully reducing malaria prevalence by innovating, and scaling up impactful interventions. Additional progress is possible: we show that integrating women’s empowerment programs into malaria control efforts would reduce the disease burden further. We measure power in three different ways: we estimate two separate collective models of the family, one with outside options and one without, and we construct a reduced form index as a proxy. We find that women have less power than men across all three measurement methods. Using an instrumental variables approach, we find that a one standard deviation increase in women’s bargaining power decreases the likelihood that a family member contracts malaria by between 45% and 48%, depending on which measurement we use. We suggest that NGO and government programs addressing malaria incorporate a female empowerment component, like a gendered cash transfer, to better combat this deadly disease.

Suggested Citation

  • Klein, Matthew J. & Barham, Bradford L. & Wu, Yuexuan, 2019. "Gender Equality in the Family Can Reduce the Malaria Burden in Malawi," Staff Paper Series 594, University of Wisconsin, Agricultural and Applied Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:wisagr:594

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    JEL classification:

    • D1 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior
    • I14 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Inequality
    • I15 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Economic Development

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