Negative Economic Shocks and Child Schooling: Evidence from Rural Malawi
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.