Evidence of Between- and Within-Household Child Nutrition Inequality in Malawi: Does the Gender of the Household Head Matter?

  • Maria SassiEmail author
Original Article


This paper uses a variance decomposition approach to investigate inter- and intra-household inequalities in under-five children’s nutritional status in Malawi and distinguish between explained and unexplained variance. The adopted linear random effect model is based on a version of the conceptual framework by UNICEF, and the adopted dataset is from the Malawian Endline Survey 2014. The selected impact variable is child stunting. The explanatory variables are representative of the underlying and basic causes of this nutritional status. This study adds to the literature by providing an estimate by the gender of the household head and up-to-date evidence on the case of Malawi, where the prevalence of child malnutrition is rampant. The results reveal that between-household inequalities, especially those unexplained by the adopted model, mostly drive the long-term child nutritional inequalities. Policy suggestions for the design of nutritional and redistributive policies aimed at achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the country’s growth and development strategy are provided.


Child malnutrition Stunting Intra-household inequality Inter-household inequality Linear random effect model Malawi 


Cet article utilise une approche de décomposition de la variance pour étudier les inégalités entre les ménages et au sein des ménages quant à l’état nutritionnel des enfants de moins de cinq ans au Malawi, et pour faire la distinction entre la variance expliquée et non expliquée. Le modèle linéaire à effets aléatoires adopté est basé sur une version du cadre conceptuel de l’UNICEF et l’ensemble des données utilisées provient de l’évaluation finale des OMD au Malawi en 2014. La variable d’impact sélectionnée est le retard de croissance chez l’enfant. Les variables explicatives sont représentatives des causes sous-jacentes et fondamentales de cet état nutritionnel. Cette étude vient ajouter à la littérature existante l’analyse par sexe du chef de ménage et une mise à jour des preuves sur le cas malawien où la prévalence de la malnutrition infantile est endémique. Les résultats révèlent que ce sont essentiellement les inégalités entre les ménages, en particulier celles qui ne sont pas expliquées par le modèle adopté, qui sont à l’origine des inégalités à long terme concernant l’état nutritionnel des enfants. Ils fournissent des suggestions de politiques publiques pour appuyer la conception de politiques nutritionnelles et redistributives visant à atteindre les ODD et la stratégie de croissance et de développement du pays.



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Copyright information

© European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Economics and ManagementUniversity of PaviaPaviaItaly

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