Malawi Schooling and Adolescent Study
This six-round longitudinal study aims to identify critical aspects of school quality that put adolescents who face the dual challenges of poverty and HIV/AIDS on a safer, healthier, and more productive path to adulthood. Our research seeks to uncover those aspects of schooling that will lead to more protective behaviors and lower HIV risk among young men and women.
The third round of data collection took place between May and July 2009. The original sample of adolescents aged 14–16 years old in the beginning of 2007 were 16–18 at the start of 2009. The third round of data collection, for the first time household- rather than school-based, achieved a very high follow-up rate of 90% after two years.
A grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) funded the household survey as well as a household census that evaluated serious methodological issues relevant to the main survey data collection, in particular the quality of household socioeconomic status reports given by the adolescent, relative to such reports given by the head of the household.
In addition to observing various transitions since 2007, such as school dropout, sexual initiation, marriage, and first birth, the third round of data collection introduced three new methodological evaluations to investigate the quality and consistency of adolescents’ reporting of sexual behavior:
- In previous studies in Kenya and Malawi we had observed higher reports of sex in face-to-face interviews (FTFI) compared with audio computer-assisted self-interviews (ACASI) when respondents were asked an initial question about ever having had sex (Kenya) or age at first sex (Malawi), and lower reports in FTFI (compared with ACASI) when respondents were asked partner-specific questions. To address this issue, we programmed two consistency checks in ACASI for the series of questions on age at first sex and subsequent partner questions. If a respondent answered that she/he has had sex and then did not report any sex partners, the partner questions were re-asked. If a respondent answered that she/he has not had sex in response to the age-at-first-sex question and then reported sex partners, the question on age at first sex was re-asked. We recorded the frequency of these consistency-check questions to determine how often discrepancies arose. For our FTFI sample we added explicit follow-up questions to record any interviewer efforts to generate consistent responses to an initial question about age at first sex and partner-specific questions about sex.
- To investigate inconsistent reporting, we conducted 20 in-depth interviews with a subset of respondents who provided discrepant answers to sexual behavior questions within rounds, 20 interviews with respondents who reported inconsistently between rounds, and 20 interviews with a comparator group of sexually experienced respondents who reported consistently.
- We developed an alternative method for collecting data on the sequencing of major adolescent transitions. An interviewer asked participants to order a set of life-event cards that displayed pictures of major adolescent transitions: first sex, school leaving, first marriage, and first participation in the labor force. Adolescents were asked to arrange the cards in the order in which they experienced these events; for transitions that had not yet occurred, adolescents were asked to turn over the relevant life-event card (the flip side pictured a red X over the event image). Once the order of events was established, the interviewer asked the respondent to recall the age at which each event occurred for the first time.
Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Round 4 Round 5 Round 6 and beyond
Location: Malawi (Balaka and Machinga districts)
Poverty, Gender, and Youth
Duration: 1/2007 - 4/2015
Ann Biddlecom (Alan Guttmacher Institute)
Chris Sudfeld (Invest in Knowledge/Harvard Humanitarian Initiative)
Johanna Rankin (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine)
Joseph P.G. Chimombo (CERT, University of Malawi, Zomba)
Linda Kalilani-Phiri (College of Medicine, University of Malawi, Blantyre)
Monica J. Grant (Department of Sociology, University of Wisconsin)
Mphatso Mwpasa (Invest in Knowledge, Malawi)
Newton Kumwenda (Malawi College of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University Research Project, Blantyre)
Peter C. Fleming (Invest in Knowledge, Malawi)
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
The Spencer Foundation
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
UK Department for International Development