Volume 27 - Article 27 | Pages 775–834

Intergenerational Transfers in the Era of HIV/AIDS: Evidence from Rural Malawi

By Iliana Kohler, Hans-Peter Kohler, Philip Anglewicz, Jere Behrman

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Date received:04 Jan 2012
Date published:13 Dec 2012
Word count:13268
Keywords:age patterns of transfers, intergenerational transfers, Malawi, MLSFH, SSA, transfer flows


Background: Intergenerational transfer patterns in sub-Saharan Africa are poorly understood, despite the alleged importance of support networks to ameliorate the complex implications of the HIV/AIDS epidemic for families.

Objective: There is a considerable need for research on intergenerational support networks and transfers to better understand the mechanisms through which extended families cope with the HIV/AIDS epidemic and potentially alleviate some of ist consequences in sub-Saharan Africa, and to comprehend how transfers respond—or not—to perceptions about own and other family members’ health.

Methods: Using the 2008 round of the Malawi Longitudinal Study of Families and Health (MLSFH), we estimate the age patterns and the multiple directions of financial and non-financial transfer flows in rural Malawi - from prime-aged respondents to their elderly parents and adult children age 15 and up. We also estimate the social, demographic and economic correlates of financial and non-financial transfers of financial intergenerational transfers in this context.

Results: Our findings are that: (1) intergenerational financial and non-financial transfers are widespread and a key characteristic of family relationships in rural Malawi; (2) downward and upward transfers are importantly constrained and determined by the availability of transfer partners (parents or adult children); (3) financial net transfers are strongly age-patterned and the middle generations are net-providers of transfers; (4) non-financial transfers are based on mutual assistance rather than reallocation of resources; and (5) intergenerational transfers are generally not related to health status, including HIV positive status.

Author's Affiliation

Iliana Kohler - University of Pennsylvania, United States of America [Email]
Hans-Peter Kohler - University of Pennsylvania, United States of America [Email]
Philip Anglewicz - Tulane University, United States of America [Email]
Jere Behrman - University of Pennsylvania, United States of America [Email]

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