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Widowhood and Asset Inheritance in Sub-Saharan Africa: Empirical Evidence from 15 Countries
Authors: Amber Peterman
Source: Development Policy Review, Volume 30, Issue 5, pages 543–571, DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-7679.2012.00588.x
Topic(s): Poverty
Women's status
Country: Africa
  Multiple African Countries
Published: SEP 2012
Abstract: Widows in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) are perceived to face discrimination in asset inheritance, leading to poverty for themselves and their children. However, large-sample empirical research supporting this claim is scarce. This article explores asset inheritance among widows using two data sources: (i) nationally representative demographic and health survey (DHS) data from 15 SSA countries, and (ii) a 13-year longitudinal panel from the Kagera region in north-west Tanzania. Results indicate that, across the 15 DHS countries, less than half of widows report inheriting any assets; the proportion reporting inheriting the majority of assets is lower. Findings from Kagera indicate that the value of inheritance is significant in determining changes in long-term household welfare.