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Do rural households smooth their consumption? Applying an asset-based approach to the case of Malawi


  • Makoka, Donald


Smallholder farming households in most of the developing countries, live in environments that are characterized by substantial risk. They consequently develop a range of risk management strategies. However, analyzing household consumption smoothing behaviour requires the availability of both income and consumption data. Since household income data are usually unavailable in many developing countries, including Malawi, this paper develops an asset-based framework to analyze consumption smoothing behaviour at household and community levels using a two-period panel dataset on 259 rural households in Malawi. The results show that while consumption smoothing takes place at the household level, it is not perfect. Food consumption is protected more than non-food consumption. Risk sharing also takes place at the community level. The major policy implication is that social protection programmes should promote household asset accumulation to enable rural households manage livelihood risks better.

Suggested Citation

  • Makoka, Donald, 2009. "Do rural households smooth their consumption? Applying an asset-based approach to the case of Malawi," MPRA Paper 15398, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:15398

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Paul Mosley & Robert Holzmann & Steen Jorgensen, 1999. "Social protection as social risk management: conceptual underpinnings for the social protection sector strategy paper," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 11(7), pages 1005-1027.
    2. Townsend, Robert M, 1994. "Risk and Insurance in Village India," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(3), pages 539-591, May.
    3. Fafchamps, Marcel & Lund, Susan, 2003. "Risk-sharing networks in rural Philippines," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 261-287, August.
    4. Delphine M. Irac & Camelia Minoiu, 2007. "Risk insurance in a transition economy," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 15(1), pages 153-173, March.
    5. Paxson, Christina H, 1993. "Consumption and Income Seasonality in Thailand," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(1), pages 39-72, February.
    6. Harrower, Sarah & Hoddinott, John, 2004. "Consumption soothing and vulnerability in the Zone Lacustre, Mali," FCND briefs 175, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    7. Grimard, Franque, 1997. "Household consumption smoothing through ethnic ties: evidence from Cote d'Ivoire," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(2), pages 391-422, August.
    8. Morris, Saul Sutkover & Calogero, Carletto & Hoddinott, John & Christiaensen, Luc J. M., 1999. "Validity of rapid estimates of household wealth and income for health surveys in rural Africa," FCND discussion papers 72, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
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    More about this item


    Consumption smoothing; risk; rural Malawi;

    JEL classification:

    • B21 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925 - - - Microeconomics

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