Marriage Transitions in Malawi 2007-2009, Panel Data
Integrated Survey (non-LSMS)
The Marriage Transitions in Malawi Project (MTM) consists of a longitudinal dataset on young women and men in central Malawi, one of the poorest countries in the world, where marriage is nearly universal, and most women and men marry before the age of 20. The data are intended to support the study of the social and economic influences on the timing of key life events among young people, such as leaving school, engaging in sex for the first time, and marrying. These pivotal moments and experiences shape future life trajectories. The project also sought to identify whether and how socioeconomic conditions and gender might influence an individual’s chances of acquiring HIV. The rich MTM panel data can contribute to understanding the forces that drive young lives and inform policy interventions.
Kind of Data
Sample survey data [ssd]
Unit of Analysis
Young men and women and their households in Salima, Malawi
- v2.1: Edited, anonymous dataset for public distribution.
Key topics covered in the data include women’s reproductive health, early pregnancy, general health, the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, relationship and partner characteristics, and healthy transitions to adulthood such as the timing of a first marriage and school completion. Social capital, aspirations, and expectations for the future are also available topics. Young men participating in the study and asked about the same topics as women, including health, pregnancy (among partners), and marriage. Data on parental demographics and household data were also collected, thereby facilitating a link between the core respondents and the wider household and intergenerational context. The MTM data were intended to contribute to development policy making broadly related to youth in the region in areas such as marriage transitions and household formation, the school-to-work transition, and migration.
Salima Malawi and, after baseline, other parts of Malawi to which respondents migrated.
At baseline, unmarried women ages 13–21 and men ages 18–25.
Producers and sponsors
William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
A random sample of 60 enumeration areas of a possible 215 in Salima defined by the National Statistical Office were selected.
A complete household listing was undertaken within each enumeration area to draw the sample of core respondents. Households with no age-eligible members were excluded by design. From the listing of all age-eligible women (ages 13-21) and men (ages 18-25) in each enumeration area, 10 women and 10 men were randomly selected. Table 1 of the Summary of Baseline Data from Marriage Transitions in Malawi Project shows the age distribution among the target sample by sex and by the actual sample size. In a few enumeration areas that had an insufficient number of women and men in a target age category who had never married, respondents were randomly selected from an adjacent age category.
Replacements were used when the field team was not able to interview the original selected respondent. There were 315 replacements for a variety of reasons. In 144 cases, the information from the household listing was inaccurate: the respondent did not actually reside in the household , had ever been married , wrong age was reported , and wrong gender ). In 127 cases, the individual was unavailable: away temporarily and not returning during the baseline field work , attending boarding school , difficult to meet due to work , parent away and unable to give consent for minors , or in police custody . There were 28 refusals (14 by the respondent and 14 by a parent of a minor). Finally, there were 16 other cases: illness , household located on police quarters and required special permission , mentally ill , and other language .
The final sample consisted of 1,183 men and women (core respondents), who resided in 1,059 households; in a few households, more than one person per household was selected for inclusion in the survey.
See Table 3 in Beegle and Poulin (2017) in the journal Studies in Family Planning.
Dates of Data Collection
Data Collection Mode
Data collection for the MTM project consisted of five rounds over 26 months. Three annual rounds were conducted in 2007, 2008, and 2009. Two interim survey rounds, called partnership interviews, were conducted midway between the annual surveys. The sample for the partnership interviews was a random selection of two-thirds of the overall sample. The annual household survey and the partnership interviews were developed based on other surveys in Malawi and other countries as well as new content specific to the MTM. All instruments were extensively pretested in Malawi.
Household survey: The questionnaire of the MTM household survey, which was conducted in three annual rounds, consisted of three parts. Part 1 included household information, such as a household roster and household economic variables. It was administered to the household head or other knowledgeable member of the household. Part 2 was fielded to the core respondents and included modules on parental background, the characteristics of sexual partnerships, social capital, risk perceptions pertaining to HIV, health, fertility and desired fertility, and aspirations and expectations (such as for marriage, schooling, and so on). Part 3 surveyed new spouses of core respondents and collected information similar to that collected through part 2. Part 3 was administered in 2008 and 2009.
Partnership interviews: Two rounds of partnership interviews were administered at the midway point of the three annual rounds of the household surveys, roughly six months following the 2007 household survey and six months following the 2008 household survey. In these much shorter interviews, core respondents and new spouses were asked about important life events and experiences that had occurred since their last interviews. The information gathered focused on relationships and partnerships, such as any newly acquired partners, the frequency of sexual intercourse, and the presence of sexually transmitted infections. Changes in key life events were also documented, such as leaving school, moving, pregnancies, births, changes in households, or marriage. The close-ended questions in the partnership interviews were similar and, in many cases, identical to parts 1 and 3 of the household survey, but also included open-ended, conversational-style questions, more well suited for sensitive topics. Respondents were permitted to answer in their own words.
Public use files, accessible to all
Use of the dataset must be acknowledged using a citation which would include:
- the Identification of the Primary Investigator
- the title of the survey (including country, acronym and year of implementation)
- the survey reference number
- the source and date of download
Beegle, Kathleen G. and M. Poulin. World Bank. Marriage Transitions in Malawi (MTM) 2007-2009. Ref: MWI_2007-2009_MTM_v01_M. Downloaded from [url] on [date]
Disclaimer and copyrights
The user of the data acknowledges that the original collector of the data, the authorized distributor of the data, and the relevant funding agency bear no responsibility for use of the data or for interpretations or inferences based upon such uses.
2019, World Bank
DDI Document ID
Development Economics Data Group
The World Bank
Documentation of the DDI
Date of Metadata Production
DDI Document version
Version 01 (May 2019)