Journal of Family and Economic Issues

, Volume 32, Issue 3, pp 473–492 | Cite as

What Motivates Gifts? Intra-Family Transfers in Rural Malawi

  • Simon DaviesEmail author
Original Paper


This paper uses Family Transfers Project data collected in rural Malawi during 1999 to ascertain the motivation for gift-giving using discriminating hypotheses. The study models monetary and monetized gifts sent and received between the survey respondents and their parents, their children, and their siblings as a function of sender and receiver characteristics. Individual analyses are compared with household level models to reveal that both individual and household characteristics can matter in different cases. OLS, Probit and Tobit models are compared to conclude that, as with other similar studies, a wide range of motivations exist including altruism, (co-)insurance, and an inheritance motive. Motivations differ slightly depending upon the relationship between the sender and receiver, however, no single motive can be attributed to any given relationship.


Africa Altruism Family transfers Family economics Gift-exchange Insurance 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Economics and International DevelopmentUniversity of BathBathUK

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