Unintended Childbearing and Family Welfare in Rural Malawi

Last updated December 2008

In Malawi, women on average bear about 6 children. One quarter to a third of these children are unwanted or occur sooner than desired and could thus be prevented by greater uptake of effective contraception. The key aim of this research is to assess the impact of unwanted births on family welfare. Family welfare is represented by the physical growth of children and by retention in school. In a very poor country such as Malawi, the adverse effect on family economics of an extra mouth to feed and child to rear is likely to be expressed by inadequate nutrition of children leading to slower growth and school drop-out of teenage children.

This research will inform the debate by conducting a study linked to an on-going Demographic Surveillance Site (DSS) in Karonga District in Northern Malawi. Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world; it is a high fertility country, with only 26.3 percent of women using any method of contraception. The DSS data of Karonga district provide the ideal setting to study the relationship between family planning and fertility and investment in children’s schooling and nutrition.

Contact Information:
Angela Baschieri, Angela.Baschieri@lshtm.ac.uk, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine