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Drought and saving in West Africa: are livestock a buffer stock?

  • Fafchamps, Marcel
  • Udry, Christopher
  • Czukas, Katherine

Households in the west African semi-arid tropics face substantial risk -- an inevitable consequence of engaging in rainfed agriculture in a drought-prone environment. It has long been hypothesized that these households keep livestock as a buffer stock to insulate their consumption from income fluctuations income. This paper tests this hypothesis. Results indicate that livestock transactions play less of a consumption smoothing role than often assumed. Livestock sales compensate for at most thirty percent, and probably closer to twenty percent of income shortfalls due to village-level shocks alone. We discuss possible explanations for these results and suggest directions for future work.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Development Economics.

Volume (Year): 55 (1998)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 273-305

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Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:55:y:1998:i:2:p:273-305
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/devec

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