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Customary Norms, Inheritance, and Human Capital: Evidence from a Reform of the Matrilineal System in Ghana

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  • La Ferrara, Eliana
  • Milazzo, Annamaria

Abstract

This paper studies the effects of descent rules on human capital accumulation. We exploit a policy experiment in Ghana that introduced minimum quotas for the land that parents should devolve on their children. This policy differentially affected ethnic groups depending on their descent rules: the matrilineal Akan saw a reduction in the share of land going to the matriclan and an increase in the land going to male children (who could not inherit from their own fathers before the reform). Patrilineal groups were instead less affected because sons could already inherit from fathers before the reform. Using a difference-in-differences strategy, across cohorts and ethnic groups, we estimate the impact of the reform on educational attainment. We find that Akan boys exposed to the reform received on average 0.9 less years of education, a 10 percent reduction. The effect is driven by landed households, for whom the reform did effectively bind, while no effect is found for non-landed households. This evidence is consistent with the fact that before the reform matrilineal groups in Ghana "over-invested" in education to substitute for land inheritance. Our findings suggest that in the presence of customary norms, land reform and the individualization of land rights may have implications that go beyond the agricultural sector and affect human capital accumulation in the long run.

Suggested Citation

  • La Ferrara, Eliana & Milazzo, Annamaria, 2014. "Customary Norms, Inheritance, and Human Capital: Evidence from a Reform of the Matrilineal System in Ghana," CEPR Discussion Papers 10159, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:10159
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Alessandra Voena & Lucia Corno, 2015. "Selling daughters: age at marriage, income shocks and bride price tradition," 2015 Meeting Papers 1089, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    2. Lucia Corno & Nicole Hildebrandt & Alessandra Voena, 2017. "Age of Marriage, Weather Shocks, and the Direction of Marriage Payments," Working Papers 2017-055, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    3. A. Alesina & P. Giuliano., 2016. "Culture and institutions," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 10.
    4. Roy, Sanchari, 2015. "Empowering women? Inheritance rights, female education and dowry payments in India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 233-251.
    5. Lambert, Sylvie & Ravallion, Martin & van de Walle, Dominique, 2014. "Intergenerational mobility and interpersonal inequality in an African economy," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 327-344.
    6. Lambrecht, Isabel & Asare, Sarah, 2015. "Smallholders and land tenure in Ghana: Aligning context, empirics, and policy:," IFPRI discussion papers 1492, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    7. Lambrecht, Isabel, 2016. "“As a husband I will love, lead, and provide:†Gendered access to land in Ghana:," IFPRI discussion papers 1514, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    8. Ghebru, Hosaena & Khan, Huma & Lambrecht, Isabel, 2016. "Perceived land tenure security and rural transformation: Empirical evidence from Ghana:," IFPRI discussion papers 1545, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    9. Lucia Corno & Alessandra Voena, 2016. "Selling daughters: age of marriage, income shocks and the bride price tradition," IFS Working Papers W16/08, Institute for Fiscal Studies.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    education; Ghana; inheritance reform; land rights;

    JEL classification:

    • I25 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Economic Development
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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