Extended family networks play an important role in shaping household outcomes in rural Malawi.
The researchers find evidence showing that households with large extended families are not well protected following adverse crop losses, indicating that extended families may not always succeed in protecting household well-being. Thus, there is a role for policy interventions that alleviate such effects. Moreover, extended families should be taken into account when designing effective policies and interventions. Evidence from one of their studies indicates that paternal grandmothers undermine the effects on child health of an infant health promotion intervention.
In this note, they summarise evidence from 2 projects that demonstrate these points. The setting is rural Malawi – a poor, agricultural context, similar to many parts of sub-Saharan Africa. They first provide evidence indicating that extended families are important in this context, before demonstrating that it is vital to understand their effects on household well-being, and that there is a role for government intervention. Finally, they summarise work that shows the need to incorporate the extended family in order to design effective policies and interventions.
This is a part of the ‘Improving productivity in developing countries: Identifying bottlenecks and obstacles to investments and technology adoption’ Project
Bansi Maldi, Molly Scott, Marco Vera-Hernandez (2015) Extended Family Networks and Household well-being: evidence from Malawi. Institute for Fiscal Studies