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Stellenbosch Working Paper Series No. WP01/2022

Authors: Martin Mwale, Dieter von Fintel, & Anja Smith


An emerging interdisciplinary literature explores how kinship practices affect household resource allocation through efficiency of production and consumption. This paper focuses on a key gender norm – how a resource transfer to households affects school drop out of girls relative to boys, under different kinship practices. Specifically, we investigate how Malawi’s farm input subsidy programme affects gendered school drop out across matrilineal and patrilineal communities. Because of matrilineal practices, girls facilitate the inter-generational transfer of wealth in these communities. They inherit property and often \emph{co-reside} with their parents after marriage, taking care of the parents in their old age. Boys undertake a similar duty in patrilineal communities. Our results indicate that school drop out decreases among girls who live in matrilineal households that participate in the subsidy programme. However, the impact is limited to matrilineal communities where couples reside in women’s birth home-matrilocal home. School drop out is not affected by FISP receipt in patrilocal communities, where couples settle in the natal home of men. Furthermore, expenditure on schooling increases among matrilocal girls whose household receive FISP, and girls residing in the matrilocal communities experience a reduction in time spent on domestic chores once their household receives the subsidy. Our results suggest that a resource transfer to households reduces gender gaps in school drop out only in communities where investment in women is more valued by traditional practices than the investment in men.

JEL Classification: A13, D13, D33, I24, 128

Keywords: School dropout, Gender, Subsidy, Malawi, Sub-Sahara