The costs of consumption smoothing: less schooling and less nutrition

Leandro De Magalhães*, Dongya Koh, Räul Santaeulàlia-Llopis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
304 Downloads (Pure)


Using novel microdata, we explore lifecycle consumption in Sub-Saharan Africa. We find that households' ability to smooth consumption over the lifecycle is large, particularly, in rural areas. Consumption in old age is sustained by shifting to self-farmed staple food, as opposed to traditional savings mechanisms or food gifts. This smoothing strategy indicates two important costs. The first cost is a loss of human capital as children seem to be diverted away from school and into producing self-farmed food. Second, a diet largely concentrated in staple food (e.g., maize in Malawi) in old age results in a loss of nutritional quality for households headed by the elderly.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-208
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Demographic Economics
Issue number3
Early online date22 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2019

Structured keywords

  • ECON Applied Economics
  • ECON CEPS Education
  • ECON CEPS Health


  • Consumption
  • lifecycle
  • nutrition
  • schooling
  • self-farming
  • smoothing
  • Sub-Saharan Africa


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