Intrahousehold resource allocation and child growth in Mozambique: an ethnographic case-control study.

Publication Date:

01 Aug 2001


Pfeiffer J, Gloyd S, Ramirez Li L. (2001). Intrahousehold resource allocation and child growth in Mozambique: an ethnographic case-control study. Soc Sci Med. 53(1), 83-97. doi: 10.1016/s0277-9536(00)00311-7



This study examines the effect of intrahousehold cash income control and decision-making patterns on child growth in the rural town of Sussundenga in Manica Province, Mozambique. A case-control study design was used to examine the influence of men’s and women’s disaggregated cash incomes on child growth. The research tested whether greater maternal share of household cash income was associated with (1) increased maternal decision-making and bargaining power in the household, and (2) better child growth. Fifty case households, with children 1-4 years old exhibiting poor growth, were matched with 50 control households of similar socioeconomic status in which all children under five demonstrated healthy growth. Data were gathered on gender-specific income generation and expenditure, specific intrahousehold allocation processes, diet, and sociodemographic variables using a formal survey. Key informant interviews, focus groups, and observation over one year provided ethnographic context for the case-control findings. Case-control differences were analyzed using McNemar’s test, paired t-test, and conditional logistic regression. In spite of matching households for socioeconomic status, control household incomes were still slightly greater than cases. Male spouse income was also higher among controls while maternal income, and maternal proportion of household income, were not significantly different. Household meat, fish and poultry consumption, and maternal education were significantly greater among control households than cases. Greater maternal share of household income was not associated with greater maternal decision-making around cash. However, mothers must spend what little cash they earn on daily food supplies and usually request additional cash from spouses to cover these costs. There is evidence that if mothers earn enough to cover these socially prescribed costs, they can spend cash for other needs. Above this threshold, women’s earnings may confer more bargaining power. The research also revealed a nuclearization of households, attenuation of community bonds of mutual aid, and increasing importance of cash for survival.


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