Husband-Wife Disagreement in Rural Malawi: A Longitudinal Analysis

Simona Bignami, University of Pennsylvania
Susan Watkins, University of Pennsylvania

Several couple studies have found discordance between partners on objective as well as subjective matters. Explanations of couple disagreement generally consist of ex-post interpretations of quantitative data collected by cross-sectional surveys, such as the Demographic and Health Survey. In this paper, we adopt a different approach and we investigate husband-wife disagreement by using quantitative and qualitative couple data from a longitudinal survey in rural Malawi. We expand on previous analyses of couple data in two main respects. First, we exploit the longitudinal nature of the survey to verify whether couples that disagree in the first round are more likely to disagree in the second round. Second, we draw on qualitative data purposively collected during the second round of the survey to explore the reasons of couple discrepancies. We find that the quantitative and qualitative evidence is consistent with the interpretation that contextual influences on individual reporting are the most important factor in explaining husband-wife inconsistencies.

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Presented in Session 3: Couples and Reproductive Health