Marriage as a Mechanism: Women’s Education and Wealth in Malawi

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Research has found that in the United States women have greater economic returns to a college degree than men, because of more stable marriages and other family income. Using cross-sectional data of women aged 19-40 years in Malawi from the Malawi Longitudinal Study of Families and Health (n = 898), we test whether higher education is associated with these same benefits in a context with lower educational attainment levels, fewer job opportunities, and different marriage patterns. We find that better educated women are more likely to have better educated spouses and higher household wealth. Though divorce is negatively associated with wealth, we do not find an association between education and divorce. This analysis provides motivation for further research on the how education is associated with outcomes for women in developing countries.