Women, weather, and woes: the triangular dynamics of female-headed households, economic vulnerability, and climate variability in South Africa

Martin Flatø, Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research, and Education (NIFU)
Raya Muttarak, Wittgenstein Centre (IIASA, VID/ÖAW, WU)
André J. Pelser, University of the Free State

Few studies on economic disadvantages of female-headed households employ longitudinal data to assess how they fare when experiencing income shocks, especially under changing climate conditions. Using three survey waves in South Africa together with rainfall data, we find that households where a single head can be identified based on residency or work status are more vulnerable to climate variability than households headed by two adults. This is partly explained by lower initial earnings. Female-headed households are the most vulnerable after accounting for household characteristics contributing to economic disadvantages. Households headed by widows, never-married women and women with a non-resident spouse are particularly vulnerable.

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Presented in Session 65: Population, development and environment interactions