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The costs of consumption smoothing: less schooling and less nutrition

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-208
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Demographic Economics
Issue number3
DateIn preparation - 25 Mar 2019
DateAccepted/In press - 25 Mar 2019
DatePublished (current) - 22 Aug 2019


Using novel micro data, we explore lifecycle consumption in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). We find that households' ability to smooth consumption over the lifecycle is large, particularly, in rural areas. Consumption in old age is sustained by shifting to self-farmed staple food, as opposed to traditional savings mechanisms or food gifts. This smoothing strategy indicates two important costs. The first cost is a loss of human capital as children seem to be diverted away from school and into producing self-farmed food. Second, a diet largely concentrated in staple food (e.g., maize in Malawi) in old age results in a loss of nutritional quality for households headed by the elderly.

    Research areas

  • Poverty, Nutrition, Old age, Sub-Saharan Africa, children, Malawi



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