Pathways from Poverty


Following the transition to majority rule in 1980, Zimbabwe embarked upon a modest program of land re-distribution on a “willing buyer – willing seller” basis, providing an opportunity to assess the ability of land reform to decrease poverty and the means by which it might do so.

Work in Zimbabwe has focused on two issues: (1) the impact of shocks on assets and human capital formation; and (2) the factors that lead to sustainable increases in household incomes.

Starting in 1982, Dr. Bill Kinsey (Free University, Amsterdam and University of Zimbabwe) developed a longitudinal household survey covering approximately 400 households in three regions where households were re-settled on former commercial farms. Surveys were conducted in 1983/84, 1987 and annually from 1992 to 2000.

The key result that emerged from this work is that transitory shocks—even relatively moderate shocks—that adversely affect the nutritional status of pre-school children have long-term consequences. Then, these findings were expanded by considering the long term effects of the civil war that preceded Zimbabwe’s transition to majority rule and the severe 1982-84 drought. They showed that these events adversely affected the nutritional status of Zimbabwean children under three years of age at the time of those shocks. These individuals were traced in 2000 and data collected on their health and education attainments as young adults.

In addition, income dynamics were examined and results showed that there were impressive improvements in asset holdings and increases in incomes over a 13-year period (1983-96). One driver of this increased productivity was the availability of improved hybrid maize seeds.

For more information on these and other results see the publications below.

Related publications

Data Set

For data access, please contact Dr. Kinsey at or