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Working Paper

Women Left Behind? : Poverty and Headship in Africa

SANITATION LIVING STANDARDS PER CAPITA CONSUMPTION FEMALE EDUCATION HOUSEHOLD SURVEY HOUSEHOLD SIZE CONSUMPTION EXPENDITURES SOCIAL NORMS POVERTY LINE ECONOMIC GROWTH GENDER INEQUALITY KINSHIP URBANIZATION LOCAL ECONOMY SPOUSE INCOME FAMILY STRUCTURE POVERTY RATES EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES FAMILY WELFARE LIVESTOCK PRODUCTION RESOURCE ALLOCATION LABOR FORCE FEMALE LIFE EXPECTANCY DEVELOPING COUNTRIES SINGLE MOTHERHOOD PUBLIC SERVICES DEMOGRAPHIC FACTORS FOOD POLICY IMPACT ON CHILDREN POLICY DISCUSSIONS POOR PEOPLE VULNERABILITY FEMALE- HEADED HOUSEHOLDS CONFLICT MEASURES POVERTY MEASURES SINGLE MOTHERS LIFE EXPECTANCY INTERNATIONAL FOOD POLICY RESEARCH INSTITUTE POVERTY REDUCTION KNOWLEDGE ARMED CONFLICT SOCIAL IMPACT SURVIVAL ADVANTAGE DEVELOPMENT PLANNING POPULATION DIVISION POVERTY INCIDENCE MIGRATION TRANSFERS AGE DISTRIBUTION ECONOMIC CHANGES INTERNATIONAL POVERTY LINE HIV INFECTION HOUSEHOLD SURVEYS MARRIAGE CULTURAL CHANGE DEPENDENCY RATIO DEPENDENCY RATIOS NATURAL RESOURCES GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT CURRENT POPULATION AGE AT MARRIAGE MORTALITY HOUSEHOLD HEADS STATUS OF WOMEN RESPECT PROGRESS UNIONS AIDS DEATHS SCHOOL YEAR HUMAN CAPITAL INFANT MIGRANT FOOD SECURITY FEWER YEARS OF EDUCATION POVERTY COMPARISONS POLICIES POPULATION STUDIES FEMALE-HEADED HOUSEHOLDS HIV POLYGAMY WOMAN POLICY RESEARCH WORKING PAPER ECONOMIC STATUS DIVORCE DEMOGRAPHIC CHANGE FAMILY FORMATION SMALLER HOUSEHOLDS URBAN AREAS KIDS POPULATION COUNCIL RURAL NUTRITION POPULATIONS EDUCATION OF WOMEN BULLETIN POPULATION ESTIMATES POLICY CHILD MORTALITY HUSBANDS SOCIAL AFFAIRS SEX TARGETING HUMAN RIGHTS MINORITY HOUSEHOLD CONSUMPTION PER CAPITA WORLD POPULATION POVERTY FEMALE LABOR FORCE FIRST MARRIAGE INCIDENCE OF POVERTY HOUSEHOLD CONSUMPTION POPULATION MARITAL STATUS POOR LIVING HOUSEHOLD WELFARE MARRIED WOMEN POLICY RESEARCH POOR FERTILITY WOMEN NEWBORN REMITTANCES LABOR MARKETS AIDS POVERTY ASSESSMENTS URBAN POPULATION IMPACT OF AIDS PEACE LEGAL RIGHTS EXTENDED FAMILY POVERTY INCREASE DEVELOPMENT POLICY HUMAN DEVELOPMENT INEQUALITY SANITATION FACILITIES
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World Bank, Washington, DC
Africa | Africa
2015-07-17T18:16:25Z | 2015-07-17T18:16:25Z | 2015-06

This paper is motivated by two stylized facts about poverty in Africa: female-headed households tend to be poorer, and poverty has been falling in the aggregate since the 1990s. These facts raise two questions: How have female-headed households fared? And what role have they played in Africas impressive recent aggregate growth and poverty reduction? Using data covering the entire region, the paper reexamines the current prevalence and characteristics of female-headed households, and asks whether their prevalence has been rising over time, what factors have been associated with such changes since the mid-1990s, and whether poverty has fallen equi-proportionately for male- and female-headed households. Rising gross domestic product has dampened rising female headship. However, other subtle transformations occurring across Africa—changes in marriage behavior, family formation, health, and education—have put upward pressure on female headship, with the result that the share of female-headed households has been growing. This has been happening alongside declining aggregate poverty incidence. However, rather than being left behind, female-headed households have generally seen faster poverty reduction. As a whole, this group has contributed almost as much to the reduction in poverty as male-headed households, despite the smaller share of female-headed households in the population.

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