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Inheritance practices and gender differences in poverty and well-being in rural Ethiopia

This publication is part of a series on 'Asset inheritance and the intergenerational transmission of poverty'

Neha Kumar
Agnes Quisumbing


This paper examines the role of men’s and women’s asset inheritance on the poverty and well-being of women and their families in rural Ethiopia. We use data from the 1997, 2004 and 2009 rounds of the Ethiopian Rural Household Survey to investigate the following issues: 1) What is the long-term impact of gender differentials in inheritance on household consumption, poverty and food security? 2) Are there significant differences in poverty and well-being between male- and female-headed households, as well as female spouses in male-headed households, taking into account individual and household characteristics, including individually inherited assets? Our most important finding is that it is the amounts of inheritance received, and not whether women inherit at all, that have the most profound impacts on their well-being. Our regressions suggest that whether or not a woman receives inheritance has an insignificant impact on a number of consumption and food security outcomes, but that the value of assets inherited and the area of land inherited are significant. In particular, land is an important factor in determining women’s long-term wellbeing. These findings are significant from a policy perspective. Legal reforms should strive to guarantee not only that women can inherit property but also, more importantly, that they have rights to inherit equally with men.

This paper is one of a series on Asset inheritance and the intergenerational transmission of poverty commissioned and published by the CPRC. It was first presented at a Roundtable on Inheritance and the Intergenerational Transmission of Poverty hosted jointly by the CPRC and the Overseas Development Institute on 11 October 2010.

Publication Type(s)

CPRC Working Paper


assets rural Ethiopia inheritance households Asset inheritance and IGT of poverty series

ISBN: 978-1-906433-92-5


1 Inheritance practices and gender differences in poverty and well-being in rural Ethiopia PDF 614.8 KB

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