IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/ucp/ecdecc/doi10.1086-671712.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Paying the Piper: The High Cost of Funerals in South Africa

Author

Listed:
  • Anne Case
  • Anu Garrib
  • Alicia Menendez
  • Analia Olgiati

Abstract

We analyze funeral arrangements after 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.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:ecdecc:doi:10.1086/671712
    DOI: 10.1086/671712
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/671712
    Download Restriction: Access to the online full text or PDF requires a subscription.

    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/671712
    Download Restriction: Access to the online full text or PDF requires a subscription.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Case, Anne & Deaton, Angus, 1998. "Large Cash Transfers to the Elderly in South Africa," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(450), pages 1330-1361, September.
    2. Alwyn Young, 2005. "The Gift of the Dying: The Tragedy of AIDS and the Welfare of Future African Generations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(2), pages 423-466.
    3. Chinhui Juhn & Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan & Belgi Turan, 2013. "HIV and fertility in Africa: first evidence from population-based surveys," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 26(3), pages 835-853, July.
    4. Anna McCord, 2004. "Policy Expectations and Programme Reality: The Poverty Reduction and Labour Market Impact of Two Public Works Programmes in South Africa," Working Papers 8, Economics and Statistics Analysis Unit (ESAU), Overseas Development Institute.
    5. Deaton, Angus, 1992. "Understanding Consumption," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198288244.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Auriol, Emmanuelle & Lassebie, Julie & Panin, Amma & Raiber, Eva & Seabright, Paul, 2017. "God insures those who pay?Formal insurance and religious offerings in Ghana," TSE Working Papers 17-831, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
    3. 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).
    4. König, Tobias & Lausen, Tobias, 2017. "Relative Consumption Preferences and Public Provision of Private Goods," Rationality and Competition Discussion Paper Series 18, CRC TRR 190 Rationality and Competition.
    5. Armando Memushi, 2014. "Conspicuous Consumption and Albanians: Determinant Factors," South-Eastern Europe Journal of Economics, Association of Economic Universities of South and Eastern Europe and the Black Sea Region, vol. 12(1), pages 65-87.
    6. Quintana-Domeque Climent & Turino Francesco, 2016. "Relative Concerns on Visible Consumption: A Source of Economic Distortions," The B.E. Journal of Theoretical Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 16(1), pages 33-45, January.
    7. Chen, Xi & Zhang, Xiaobo, 2017. "Costly Posturing: Ceremonies and Early Child Development in China," IZA Discussion Papers 10662, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    8. Rik Linssen & Luuk Kempen & Gerbert Kraaykamp, 2011. "Subjective Well-being in Rural India: The Curse of Conspicuous Consumption," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 101(1), pages 57-72, March.
    9. Chen, Xi, 2014. "Fetus, Fasting, and Festival: The Persistent Effects of in Utero Social Shocks," IZA Discussion Papers 8494, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    10. Elena M. Parilina & Alessandro Tampieri, 2018. "Stability and cooperative solution in stochastic games," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 84(4), pages 601-625, June.
    11. 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.
    12. Jaikumar, Saravana & Singh, Ramendra & Sarin, Ankur, 2018. "‘I show off, so I am well off’: Subjective economic well-being and conspicuous consumption in an emerging economy," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 386-393.
    13. 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, September.
    14. 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).
    15. Ardington, Cally & Bärnighausen, Till & Case, Anne & Menendez, Alicia, 2014. "The economic consequences of AIDS mortality in South Africa," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 48-60.
    16. König, Tobias & Lausen, Tobias, 2016. "Relative consumption preferences and public provision of private goods," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Market Behavior SP II 2016-213, WZB Berlin Social Science Center.
    17. 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.
    18. Muna Shifa & Murray Leibbrandt, 2018. "Relative Economic Position and Subjective Well-Being in a Poor Society: Does Relative Position Indicator Matter?," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 139(2), pages 611-630, September.
    19. repec:unu:wpaper:wp2012-70 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ucp:ecdecc:doi:10.1086/671712. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Journals Division). General contact details of provider: https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/EDCC .

    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 CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.