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Working Paper 180 - Marital Status, Household Size and Poverty in Nigeria: Evidence from the 2009-2010 Survey Data
23/09/2013 09:56
Working Paper 180 - Marital Status, Household Size and Poverty in Nigeria: Evidence from the 2009-2010 Survey Data
Recent studies on a sample of sub-Saharan Africa have shown that only half of widows or their children received property after the death of their husbands. The rates were high in Rwanda66% in Rwanda (60 percent), Namibia (57 percent), and Tanzania (53 percent). Indeed, only women in polygamous marriages were less likely to report inheriting property. These studies support the view that property inheritance by widows is significantly and robustly associated with higher welfare outcomes (per capita consumption and value of household stocks) in most regions. This paper examines the effect of marital status and household size, among other correlates, on poverty in Nigeria a view to addressing the related question of whether and how poverty can be sustainably reduced, using the Harmonized Nigeria Living Standard Survey (HNLSS) data of 2009/2010. The study applies multivariate analysis, using a logistic regression in accordance with the basic principles of discrete choice models on the 2009/2010 data. In order to explore the correlates of poverty with the variables thought to be important in explaining poverty a logistic regression relating poverty status (the dichotomous variable) to marital status; demographic characteristic (household size), personal characteristic (age and its square); gender; educational attainment; occupation/employment; and geographical residence. Our results show that monogamous marriage, divorce/separation and widowhood are negatively and significantly correlated with the probability of being poor. However, monogamous marriage has the largest probability of reducing poverty in Nigeria. We also find that household size matters in determining poverty in the country: a one-person household negatively and significantly reduces poverty while addition of members to the household, progressively increases the probability of being poor. In addition, our results show that there is a significant concave (inverted-U shaped) relationship between age and poverty. Other variables found to significantly reduce the probability of being poor include: being a male, completion of post-secondary education, being in paid household employment, and residence in the North Central and South East geopolitical zones. Variables that increase the probability of being poor in Nigeria include rural residence, possessing no education, being a self-employed farmer, and residence in the North West geopolitical zone of the country. Based on the results, we recommend a number of policy interventions necessary to reduce poverty in Nigeria. The study provides a set of policy interventions necessary to reduce poverty in Nigeria. First, while government cannot legislate marriage structure given the heterogenous nature of the country and the need to promote freedom of choice, public and private sector policies can be used to increase the number and proportion of high quality monogamous marriage rates among Nigerians.   Second, given that property inheritance helps widows and divorced women to reduce poverty, the government, at the national level, should embark on policy reforms to guarantee women’s rights to equal inheritance under the law, and to increase women’s legal literacy so that they are able to claim what is rightfully theirs. Such policies should also support women’s ownership claims to property in the event of divorce. Third, given that poverty increases with the number of household members (or family size), there is urgent need to intensify family planning services efforts and activities in Nigeria so as to improve knowledge, acceptance and practice (KAP) of family planning. This will involve not only increased financial outlay but also research on fertility determinants as well as decentralized planning, delivery and supervision of family planning services. Fourth, there is a need to focus on gender-based poverty interventions, especially among female-headed households in Nigeria. Improving access to education, for example, can reduce gendered disadvantages both by increasing individual productivity and by facilitating the movement of poor people from low-paying jobs in agriculture to higher-paying jobs in industry and services. Making agriculture attractive with modern inputs and easy access to credit, which will help to increase productivity in the sector, will also be helpful.Read more
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