The costs of consumption smoothing: Less schooling and less nutrition

Leandro De Magalhães, Dongya Koh, Räul Santaeulàlia-Llopis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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 (US)
Pages (from-to)181-208
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Demographic Economics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2019


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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Economics and Econometrics


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