Sociology Ph.D. Dissertations

Title

Rethinking Poverty in Nigeria: The Demographics and Health of Households with Threatened Livelihoods

Date of Award

2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Department

Sociology

First Advisor

Wendy Manning (Advisor)

Second Advisor

Kelly Balistreri (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Karen Guzzo (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Kara Joyner (Committee Member)

Fifth Advisor

John Liederbach (Other)

Abstract

Many studies have reported staggering levels of food insecurity and highlighted important socioeconomic correlates of food poverty in Nigeria. Yet, a more nuanced assessment is required to determine how food insecurity relates to other aspects of household socioeconomic wellbeing and how traditionally vulnerable groups avoid food insecurity while others with high levels of resources experience food insecurity. Further, food insecurity is often treated as a static indicator but may be episodic. Accordingly, further attention to the correlates and implications of persistent and transitory food insecurity is warranted. The present study draws on relevant theoretical frameworks to advance our knowledge about household food insecurity and wellbeing in Nigeria. Using nationally representative and panel data from the Nigeria General Household Survey (n= ~4700 households), the study: 1) analyzes the sociodemographic correlates (including wealth index) of persistent and transitory household food insecurity in Nigeria; 2) examines three mechanisms by which the presence of two vulnerable populations (children and older adults with a disability) in the household relate to household food insecurity; and 3) investigates the association between household food insecurity and child malnutrition and how the relationship is modified by community-level characteristics. The findings reveal that household food insecurity presents a very different picture of household socioeconomic wellbeing than many other measures of household socioeconomic status. The results reaffirmed the episodic nature of poverty, including food insecurity. Whereas only half of Nigerian households were food insecure in 2010, the majority had experienced food insecurity by 2013. Persistently food secure households were more economically advantaged than persistently food insecure households. Yet, chronically food insecure households were not predominantly uneducated, unemployed, or without support. Inadequate access to financial support does not explain the gap in the experiences of food insecurity between households with vulnerable populations and those without vulnerable populations. But, the longer time spent collecting cooking fuel by households with children partially account for their vulnerability to severe food insecurity. Household food insecurity was significantly related to under-five malnutrition but the association is complex. The findings of this dissertation provide new insights into processes underlying household food insecurity and their implications for child wellbeing.

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