The Transition to Adulthood in Rural Malawi: Gender Differences in Aspirations and Educational Outcomes

Fatima Zahra , University of Maryland

The role of adolescent aspirations for life outcomes, as representative of agency, has been underexplored in the research on transitions to adulthood in sub-Saharan Africa. With a sample of 6,253 person-waves derived using 6 waves of longitudinal data from the Malawi Schooling and Adolescent Study (MSAS), this study uses discrete time models to examine gender differences in the relationship between aspirations for education and marriage, and school dropout during primary and secondary school in Southern Malawi. Gender stratified Kaplan-Meier curves show that girls are more likely to dropout than boys. Preliminary results show that, net of socio-structural constraints and students’ own educational experiences, a higher desired age for marriage is associated with lower odds for girls’ school dropout, while educational aspirations do not predict the risk of school dropout. This suggests the importance of considering aspirations for non-educational transitions, particularly for girls, when analyzing educational outcomes.

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 Presented in Session 49. Work and Education Outcomes in the Transition to Adulthood