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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.

Suggested Citation

  • La Ferrara, Eliana, 2007. "Descent Rules and Strategic Transfers. Evidence from Matrilineal Groups in Ghana," CEPR Discussion Papers 6111, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6111
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Lucia Corno & Alessandra Voena, 2015. "Selling Daughters: Age of Marriage, Income Shocks and Bride Price Tradition," Study Papers 84, Rockwool Foundation Research Unit.
    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. Casari, Marco & Lisciandra, Maurizio, 2015. "Gender Discrimination and Common Property Resources," IZA Discussion Papers 9601, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Kudo, Yuya, 2015. "Female Migration for Marriage: Implications from the Land Reform in Rural Tanzania," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 41-61.
    5. Dimico, Arcangelo, 2014. "Poverty trap and educational shock: Evidence from missionary fields," QUCEH Working Paper Series 14-07, Queen's University Belfast, Queen's University Centre for Economic History.
    6. BenYishay, Ariel & Grosjean, Pauline & Vecci, Joe, 2017. "The fish is the friend of matriliny: Reef density and matrilineal inheritance," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 234-249.
    7. 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.
    8. Fenske, James, 2010. "Institutions in African history and development: A review essay," MPRA Paper 23120, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Nadege Miclanche Azebaze & Thomas Falk & Evelyn Korn, 2014. "Land allocation in subsistence economies and intra-familial time-use decisions," MAGKS Papers on Economics 201451, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
    10. 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).
    11. Lambrecht, Isabel Brigitte, 2016. "“As a Husband I Will Love, Lead, and Provide.” Gendered Access to Land in Ghana," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 188-200.
    12. Casari, Marco & Lisciandra, Maurizio, 2014. "Gender Discrimination and Common Property Resources: a Model," MPRA Paper 57712, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    13. 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.
    14. 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.
    15. 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).
    16. 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).
    17. 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.
    18. 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.
    19. Bevis, Leah E.M. & Barrett, Christopher B., 2015. "Decomposing Intergenerational Income Elasticity: The Gender-differentiated Contribution of Capital Transmission in Rural Philippines," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 233-252.

    More about this item

    Keywords

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

    JEL classification:

    • O16 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Financial Markets; Saving and Capital Investment; Corporate Finance and Governance
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements

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