Paying the Piper: The High Cost of Funerals in South Africa
AbstractWe analyze funeral arrangements following the deaths of 3,751 people who died between January 2003 and December 2005 in the Africa Centre Demographic Surveillance Area. We find that, on average, households spend the equivalent of a year's income for an adult's funeral, measured at median per capita African (Black) income. Approximately one-quarter of all individuals had some form of insurance, which helped surviving household members defray some fraction of funeral expenses. However, an equal fraction of households borrowed money to pay for the funeral. We develop a model, consistent with ethnographic work in this area, in which households respond to social pressure to bury their dead in a style consistent with the observed social status of the household and that of the deceased. Households that cannot afford a funeral commensurate with social expectations must borrow money to pay for the funeral. The model leads to empirical tests, and we find results consistent with our model of household decision-making.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14456.
Date of creation: Oct 2008
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Anne Case & Anu Garrib & Alicia Menendez & Analia Olgiati, 2013. "Paying the Piper: The High Cost of Funerals in South Africa," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 62(1), pages 1 - 20.
Contact details of provider:
Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Other versions of this item:
- Anne Case & Anu Garrib & Alicia Menendez & Analia Olgiati, 2013. "Paying the Piper: The High Cost of Funerals in South Africa," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 62(1), pages 1 - 20.
- D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
- O12 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Case, Anne & Deaton, Angus, 1998.
"Large Cash Transfers to the Elderly in South Africa,"
Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(450), pages 1330-61, September.
- Anne Case & Angus Deaton, 1996. "Large Cash Transfers to the Elderly in South Africa," NBER Working Papers 5572, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Case, A. & Deaton, A., 1996. "Large Cash Transfers to the Elderly in South Africa," Papers 176, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Development Studies.
- Juhn, Chinhui & Kalemli-Ozcan, Sebnem & Turan, Belgi, 2009.
"HIV and Fertility in Africa: First Evidence from Population Based Surveys,"
IZA Discussion Papers
4473, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan & Belgi Turan & Chinhui Juhn, 2009. "HIV and Fertility in Africa: First Evidence from Population Based Surveys," 2009 Meeting Papers 650, Society for Economic Dynamics.
- Chinhui Juhn & Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan & Belgi Turan, 2008. "HIV and Fertility in Africa: First Evidence from Population Based Surveys," NBER Working Papers 14248, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Alwyn Young, 2005. "The Gift of the Dying: The Tragedy of Aids and the Welfare of Future African Generations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 120(2), pages 423-466, May.
- Anne Case & Alicia Menendez, 2009.
"Requiescat in Pace? The Consequences of High Priced Funerals in South Africa,"
NBER Working Papers
14998, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Anne Case & Alicia Menendez, 2011. "Requiescat in Pace? The Consequences of High-Priced Funerals in South Africa," NBER Chapters, in: Explorations in the Economics of Aging, pages 351-373 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Omer Moav and & Zvika Neeman, 2012. "Saving Rates and Poverty: The Role of Conspicuous Consumption and Human Capital," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 122(563), pages 933-956, 09.
- Brown, Philip H. & Bulte, Erwin & Zhang, Xiaobo, 2010.
"Positional spending and status seeking in rural China,"
IFPRI discussion papers
983, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
- Brown, Philip H. & Bulte, Erwin & Zhang, Xiaobo, 2011. "Positional spending and status seeking in rural China," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(1), pages 139-149, September.
- Linkow, Benjamin, 2009. "Fraying of the Ties that Bind: HIV/AIDS and Informal Contract Enforcement in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa," MPRA Paper 21769, University Library of Munich, Germany.
- Chen, Xi & Zhang, Xiaobo, 2012.
"Costly Posturing: Relative Status, Ceremonies and Early Child Development in China,"
Working Paper Series
UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
- Chen, Xi & Zhang, Xiaobo, 2012. "Costly posturing: relative status, ceremonies and early child development in China:," IFPRI discussion papers 1206, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
- Rik Linssen & Luuk Kempen & Gerbert Kraaykamp, 2011. "Subjective Well-being in Rural India: The Curse of Conspicuous Consumption," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 101(1), pages 57-72, March.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ().
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.