Shocks, Family Transfers and Youth Transitions in Rural Malawi

Iliana V. Kohler, University of Pennsylvania
Hans-Peter Kohler, University of Pennsylvania
Linda Kalilani-Phiri, University of Malawi

We investigate how the occurrence of multiple economic and health shocks within families affects the transition to adulthood in rural Malawi. Specifically, drawing on longitudinal data for 2006 and 2008 (and 2010 for our final analyses), we study how frequent shocks alter important aspects of adolescent transitions such as changes in health status, transition into marriage, leaving the parental household or leaving school within this two-year period. A key innovation is that we evaluate the extent to which the effect of shocks on adolescent outcomes is potentially buffered by transfers within extended families, and in particular by the net transfers given to the mothers of these adolescent children. Our analysis suggests that the experience of demographic and/or economic shocks affect adolescents in their transition to adulthood, and that transfers given to the mothers of the adolescents can ameliorate the impact of family-level shocks on adolescent outcomes.

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Presented in Session 115: Transition to Adulthood in the Developing World