Household Access to Microcredit and Children's Food Security in Rural Malawi: A Gender Perspective

Does women's access to microcredit plays a role in their children's nutrition?

This study, set in rural Malawi, seeks to discover if women’s relative control over household resources, as measured by their access to microcredit, has an impact on their children’s food security.

The study uses data from the 1995 Malawi Financial Markets and Food Security Survey. It discusses two competing models of intra-household allocation, namely, the Unitary model and the Collective model. The former considers the household as a monolithic unit with a single set of preferences, while the latter considers household distribution as an outcome of bargaining between members with dissimilar preferences and bargaining power.

Study findings suggest that intra-household allocation in rural Malawi proceeds according to the Collective model. There is a positive impact on nutrition for girls in the age group of 0–6 years in cases where women have accessed microcredit. No such effect is noted for boys or girls where men have accessed microcredit. This effect could be explained in part by the subsidiary finding that access to microcredit raises household expenditure on food.

About this Publication

By Hazarika, G. , Guha-Khasnobis, B.