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Negative Economic Shocks and Child Schooling: Evidence from Rural Malawi


  • Asma Hyder

    () (Karachi School for Business and Leadership, Pakistan)

  • Jere R. Behrman

    () (Population Studies Center, Sociology Department, University of Pennsylvania)

  • Hans-Peter Kohler

    () (Population Studies Center, Sociology Department, University of Pennsylvania)


This study investigates the impacts of negative economic shocks on child schooling in households of rural Malawi, one of the poorest countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Two waves of household panel data for years 2006 and 2008 from the Malawi Longitudinal Study of Families and Health (MLSFH) are used to examine the impact of negative shocks on child schooling. Both individually-reported and community-level shocks are investigated. A priori the impact of negative shocks on schooling may be negative (if income effects dominate) or positive (if price effects dominate). Also the effects may be larger for measures of idiosyncratic shocks (if there is considerable within-community variation in experiencing shocks) or for aggregate shocks (if community support networks buffer better idiosyncratic than aggregate shocks). Finally there may be gender differences in the relevance for child schooling of shocks reported by men versus those reported by women with, for example, the former having larger effects if resource constraints have strong effects on schooling and if because of gender roles men perceive better than women shocks that affect household resources. The study finds that negative economic shocks have significant negative impacts on child school enrollment and grade attainment, with the estimated effects of the community shocks larger and more pervasive than the estimated effects of idiosyncratic shocks and with the estimated effects of shocks reported by men as large or larger than the estimated effects of shocks reported by women.

Suggested Citation

  • Asma Hyder & Jere R. Behrman & Hans-Peter Kohler, 2012. "Negative Economic Shocks and Child Schooling: Evidence from Rural Malawi," PIER Working Paper Archive 12-039, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
  • Handle: RePEc:pen:papers:12-039

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Flug, Karnit & Spilimbergo, Antonio & Wachtenheim, Erik, 1998. "Investment in education: do economic volatility and credit constraints matter?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 465-481, April.
    2. Ferreira, Francisco H. G. & Schady, Norbert, 2008. "Aggregate economic shocks, child schooling and child health," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4701, The World Bank.
    3. Duryea, Suzanne & Arends-Kuenning, Mary, 2003. "School Attendance, Child Labor and Local Labor Market Fluctuations in Urban Brazil," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 31(7), pages 1165-1178, July.
    4. Schultz, Theodore W, 1975. "The Value of the Ability to Deal with Disequilibria," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 13(3), pages 827-846, September.
    5. Sawada, Yasayuki & Lokshin, Michael, 2001. "Household schooling decisions in rural Pakistan," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2541, The World Bank.
    6. Beegle, Kathleen & Dehejia, Rajeev H. & Gatti, Roberta, 2006. "Child labor and agricultural shocks," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 80-96, October.
    7. Jere R. Behrman & Anil B. Deolalikar, 1990. "The Intrahousehold Demand for Nutrients in Rural South India: Individual Estimates, Fixed Effects, and Permanent Income," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(4), pages 665-696.
    8. Rosenzweig, Mark R, 1995. "Why Are There Returns to Schooling?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(2), pages 153-158, May.
    9. Brian Chin, 2010. "Income, health, and well-being in rural Malawi," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 23(35), pages 997-1030, November.
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    More about this item


    Africa; Economic Shocks; Child Schooling;

    JEL classification:

    • N37 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Africa; Oceania
    • E30 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - General (includes Measurement and Data)
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education

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