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Abstract

This dissertation is comprised of three essays that describe the household decision-making and risk management implications of economic and social constraints faced by households in sub-Saharan Africa. The first essay tests how orphan child status in Tanzania impacts time allocation and educational investments due to altruism and bargaining power constraints. Using theoretical and empirical approaches, the marginal position of orphans relative to non-orphans is confirmed, with differences sourced in intra-household labour allocations and the inter-generational transmission of education. The second essay analyses gender differences in agricultural production strategies in Uganda to ascertain whether crop diversity may be an effective risk management strategy to guarantee productivity. The longitudinal analysis demonstrates that both the number and riskiness of the components of the entire crop portfolio underpin the productivity-enhancing potential of crop diversity for female farmers. Finally, a randomized cash transfer program is analysed in the third essay to determine whether relaxing liquidity constraints is capable of shifting household risk preferences and agricultural risk profiles towards higher-risk, higher-return production strategies in Lesotho. The intervention was found to be effective for motivating changes in crop production strategies through what is evidenced as dynamic local rural economies.

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