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Descent Rules and Strategic Transfers. Evidence from Matrilineal Groups in Ghana

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  • La Ferrara, Eliana

Abstract

Traditional descent systems can roughly be divided into patrilineal and matrilineal. In the latter, a man’s heir is not his own child but rather his sister’s son. The paper examines the implications of this social norm for the pattern of inter-vivos transfers using household level data from rural Ghana, where the largest ethnic group is traditionally matrilineal. In particular, it tests the predictions of a model of strategic behaviour according to which children should respond to the threat of disinheritance by increasing transfers to their parents during lifetime to induce a donation of land before the default (matrilineal) inheritance is enforced. I find that the credibility of customary norms enforcement, as proxied by the presence of a nephew in the father’s household, significantly increases the probability of receiving transfers from children for Akans but not for other groups. The effect is specific to nephews and not to other co-resident boys. This pattern of behaviour can affect asset accumulation decisions across generations.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 6111.

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Date of creation: Feb 2007
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6111

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Keywords: inter-vivos transfers; matrilineal inheritance; social norms; strategic bequests;

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References

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Cited by:
  1. Kuku, Oluyemisi & Gundersen, Craig & Garasky, Steven, 2011. "Differences in food insecurity between adults and children in Zimbabwe," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 311-317, April.
  2. Di Falco, Salvatore & Bulte, Erwin, 2013. "The Impact of Kinship Networks on the Adoption of Risk-Mitigating Strategies in Ethiopia," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 100-110.
  3. Kudo, Yuya, 2012. "Marriage as women's old age insurance : evidence from migration and land inheritance practices in rural Tanzania," IDE Discussion Papers 368, Institute of Developing Economies, Japan External Trade Organization(JETRO).
  4. Fenske, James, 2010. "Institutions in African history and development: A review essay," MPRA Paper 23120, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  5. David Dreyer Lassen & Helene Bie Lilleør, 2008. "Informal Institutions and Intergenerational Contracts: Evidence from Schooling and Remittances in Rural Tanzania," CAM Working Papers 2008-03, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics. Centre for Applied Microeconometrics.
  6. Goetghebuer, Tatiana & Platteau, Jean-Philippe, 2010. "Inheritance patterns in migration-prone communities of the Peruvian Highlands," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(1), pages 71-87, September.

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