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Early-Life Rainfall Shocks and Intergenerational Education Mobility in Malawi

Mussa, Richard (2017): Early-Life Rainfall Shocks and Intergenerational Education Mobility in Malawi.

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Abstract

The paper examines the relationship between intergenerational education mobility and children's rainfall shocks in the year of birth in Malawi. These rainfall shocks reflect exogenous reductions in household income. Survey data which is linked to rainfall data for the period 1958 to 1986 is used. The paper finds that birth-year rainfall shocks reinforce intergenerational educational mobility between mothers and their daughters only. The partial mother-daughter intergenerational coefficients of education are 0.344 and 0.392 for daughters affected and unaffected by a rainfall shock in their year of birth respectively. Rainfall shocks reinforce intergenerational educational immobility at the left tail of the education distribution while they reduce immobility at the right tail of the education distribution. The results are insensitive to a number of specification concerns including: usage of different rainfall shock thresholds based on the gamma distribution, alternative definitions of shocks which are not based on a distributional assumption and cover both droughts and floods, the timing of rainfall shocks, and mortality selection. A plausible interpretation of these findings is that given that poor families are less likely to have adequate shock mitigation strategies, early-life rainfall-related income shocks have a permanent and long-run effect of limiting equality of opportunity.

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