Vulnerability to Poverty in Rural Malawi

33 Pages Posted: 27 Jul 2016

See all articles by Nancy McCarthy

Nancy McCarthy

LEAD Analytics

Josh Brubaker

LEAD Analytics

Alejandro de la Fuente

World Bank - Poverty and Equity Global Practice

Date Written: July 26, 2016


Considerations of risk and vulnerability are key to understanding the dynamics of poverty in rural Malawi. This study measures vulnerability to consumption shortfalls and analyzes its sources using a two-period panel of 2,789 households, drawn from the 2010 Third Integrated Household Survey and the 2013 Integrated Household Panel Survey. The results show that in 2010 two-fifths of all households had a chance of at least 40 percent of falling below the poverty line in the future. The results show that many households in rural Malawi are vulnerable to poverty, although, as with many other studies of rural areas in other countries, much of the vulnerability is caused by chronic poverty. Nonetheless, risks, particularly rainfall and loss of off-farm employment, are also important in explaining why poor households remain poor, and why some non-poor households are more likely to fall into poverty in the next period. Household wealth and agricultural assets can protect households from falling into poverty and reduce the severity of the fall when shocks occur. However, there is little evidence to suggest that other strategies to reduce vulnerability are effective.

Keywords: Poverty Monitoring & Analysis, Poverty Impact Evaluation, Poverty Assessment, Small Area Estimation Poverty Mapping, Poverty Diagnostics, Poverty Lines, Adaptation to Climate Change

Suggested Citation

McCarthy, Nancy and Brubaker, Josh and de la Fuente, Alejandro, Vulnerability to Poverty in Rural Malawi (July 26, 2016). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 7769, Available at SSRN:

Nancy McCarthy (Contact Author)

LEAD Analytics ( email )

Washington, DC
United States

Josh Brubaker

LEAD Analytics ( email )

Washington, DC
United States

Alejandro De la Fuente

World Bank - Poverty and Equity Global Practice ( email )

1818 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20433
United States

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