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Asset index, child nutritional status and pro-poor growth analysis in Malawi


  • Anderson Sawira Gondwe

    () (Department of Economics, University of Stellenbosch)


This paper contains spatial and intertemporal comparisons of multidimensional poverty and inequality in Malawi using two non-monetary dimensions, namely an asset index and child nutritional status. Through stochastic dominance tests, we establish that poverty and inequality are unambiguously higher in rural areas, the Southern region and households headed by females. We find, using decomposition analysis, that most poor people live in rural areas which make up 85% of total population. Poverty comparisons over time, between 1992 and 2010, show that poverty has significantly declined in Malawi and that these gains have largely been pro-poor in both absolute and relative terms. The paper shows that Malawi’s poverty profile is a ‘bad picture’ in the sense that almost half of the population is still poor but a ‘good movie’ in that the incidence of poverty has fallen from as high as 80%. Interestingly, we find that poverty and inequality estimates do not vary much across regions and areas with respect to child nutritional status but large differences exist when assets are used. We also find that stunting is a bigger problem among under-5 children in Malawi than wasting and being underweight. Econometric analysis shows that asset ownership is positively associated with household size (suggesting economies of scale), age of household head and education attainment. Age dependency ratio and shocks to sickness are negatively associated with asset ownership. Multivariate analysis of child nutrition reveals that malnutrition first worsens before improvement begins to take place at some critical age. This is consistent with possible recovery from malnutrition as has been found in some of the studies that track children over time. Also consistent with some literature is the finding that boys have weaker nutritional status than girls.

Suggested Citation

  • Anderson Sawira Gondwe, 2015. "Asset index, child nutritional status and pro-poor growth analysis in Malawi," Working Papers 20/2015, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:sza:wpaper:wpapers253

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. David E. Sahn & David C. Stifel, 2003. "Urban--Rural Inequality in Living Standards in Africa," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 12(4), pages 564-597, December.
    2. Booysen, Frikkie & van der Berg, Servaas & Burger, Ronelle & Maltitz, Michael von & Rand, Gideon du, 2008. "Using an Asset Index to Assess Trends in Poverty in Seven Sub-Saharan African Countries," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 36(6), pages 1113-1130, June.
    3. François Bourguignon & Satya Chakravarty, 2003. "The Measurement of Multidimensional Poverty," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 1(1), pages 25-49, April.
    4. Richard Mussa, 2013. "Spatial Comparisons of Poverty and Inequality in Living Standards in Malawi," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 81(2), pages 192-210, June.
    5. Jonathan Haughton & Shahidur R. Khandker, 2009. "Handbook on Poverty and Inequality," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 11985, June.
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    More about this item


    Pro-poor growth analysis; asset index; child nutritional status; Malawi;

    JEL classification:

    • D - Microeconomics
    • D3 - Microeconomics - - Distribution
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution

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