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Toward an understanding of household vulnerability in rural Kenya

  • Christiaensen, Luc. J.
  • Subbarao, Kalanidhi

Considerations of risk and vulnerability are key to understanding the dynamics of poverty. This study conceives vulnerability as expected poverty and illustrates a methodology to empirically assess household vulnerability using pseudo panel data derived from repeated cross sections augmented with historical information on shocks. Application of the methodology to data from rural Kenya shows that in 1994 rural households faced on average a 40 percent chance of becoming poor in the future. Households in arid areas that experience large rainfall volatility appear more vulnerable than those in non-arid areas, where malaria emerges as a key risk factor. Idiosyncratic shocks also cause non-negligible consumption volatility. Possession of cattle and sheep/goats appears ineffective in protecting consumption against covariant shocks, though sheep/goat help reduce the effect of idiosyncratic shocks, especially in arid zones. Of the policy instruments simulated, interventions directed at reducing the incidence of malaria, promoting adult literacy, and improving market accessibility hold most promise to reduce vulnerability.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 3326.

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Date of creation: 01 Jun 2004
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:3326
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  1. Townsend, Robert M, 1994. "Risk and Insurance in Village India," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(3), pages 539-91, May.
  2. Ligon, Ethan & Schechter, Laura, 2002. "Measuring Vulnerability," 2002 Annual meeting, July 28-31, Long Beach, CA 19899, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
  3. Glewwe, Paul & Hall, Gillette, 1998. "Are some groups more vulnerable to macroeconomic shocks than others? Hypothesis tests based on panel data from Peru," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 181-206, June.
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  8. Christopher B. Barrett & Francis Chabari & DeeVon Bailey & Peter D. Little & D. Layne Coppock, 2003. "Livestock Pricing in the Northern Kenyan Rangelands," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 12(2), pages 127-155, June.
  9. Christiaensen, Luc J.M. & Boisvert, Richard N., 2000. "On Measuring Household Food Vulnerability: Case Evidence from Northern Mali," Working Papers 127676, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
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  15. C. Barrett & K. Smith & P. Box, 2001. "Not Necessarily In The Same Boat: Heterogeneous Risk Assessment Among East African Pastoralists," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 37(5), pages 1-30.
  16. Haddad, Lawrence & Hoddinott, John & Alderman, Harold & DEC, 1994. "Intrahousehold resource allocation : an overview," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1255, The World Bank.
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  18. Ligon, Ethan & Schechter, Laura, 2002. "Measuring Vulnerability: The Director's Cut," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  19. Christiaensen, Luc & Demery, Lionel & Paternostro, Stefano, 2003. "Reforms, Remoteness and Risk in Africa: Understanding Inequality and Poverty during the 1990s," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  20. 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.
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