Journal Article

Income shocks and partnership formation: Evidence from Malawi

The ever‐increasing prevalence of negative shocks experienced by poor, vulnerable households often induces extreme measures as ways to recover from the negative effects on income. Child marriage is one of the coping mechanisms households may use. This study examines whether young people in households that experience a negative shock are more likely to marry than those not experiencing a shock, and whether this effect differs by lineage system. I show that marrying off daughters is, in fact, a coping mechanism used by patrilineal households after experiencing a shock and that these effects are potentially strongest for young women who are already out of school. Conversely, I find no significant effect for young men. Additionally, I find suggestive evidence of an increased likelihood of young women engaging in transactional sexual relationships after a shock as an individual‐level coping mechanism. Understanding the mechanisms leading to the increased incidence of these phenomena provides valuable information that can help combat such practices.

Published in a peer-reviewed journal of the Population Council.