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Status and egalitarianism in traditional communities: An analysis of funeral attendance in six Zimbabwean villages


  • Abigail Barr
  • Mattea Stein


This paper explores two hypotheses concerning the role of status in relationships between rich and poor in traditional communities by analyzing who goes to whose funerals in six Zimbabwean villages. Funerals allow status to be observed because non-attendance is a sign of disrespect. We find that the richer a household hosting a funeral, the less likely heads of neighbouring households are to attend. Thus, the status-for0insurance hypothesis - that the poor bestow status upon the rich in return for help in times of need is rejected in favour of the egalitarianism hypothesis - that richer households are denied status.

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  • Abigail Barr & Mattea Stein, 2008. "Status and egalitarianism in traditional communities: An analysis of funeral attendance in six Zimbabwean villages," CSAE Working Paper Series 2008-26, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  • Handle: RePEc:csa:wpaper:2008-26

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. De Weerdt, Joachim & Dercon, Stefan, 2006. "Risk-sharing networks and insurance against illness," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 337-356, December.
    2. Joachim De Weerdt & Marcel Fafchamps, 2011. "Social Identity and the Formation of Health Insurance Networks," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 47(8), pages 1152-1177, June.
    3. De Weerdt, Joachim, 2002. "Risk-Sharing and Endogenous Network Formation," WIDER Working Paper Series 057, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
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    Cited by:

    1. Pamela Jakiela & Edward Miguel & Vera L. te Velde, 2010. "You've Earned It: Combining Field and Lab Experiments to Estimate the Impact of Human Capital on Social Preferences," NBER Working Papers 16449, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Margherita Comola & Marcel Fafchamps, 2014. "Testing Unilateral and Bilateral Link Formation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 124(579), pages 954-976, September.
    3. Barr, Abigail & Dekker, Marleen & Fafchamps, Marcel, 2015. "The Formation of Community-Based Organizations: An Analysis of a Quasi-Experiment in Zimbabwe," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 131-153.
    4. Pamela Jakiela & Edward Miguel & Vera Velde, 2015. "You’ve earned it: estimating the impact of human capital on social preferences," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 18(3), pages 385-407, September.
    5. Caria, Antonia Stefano & Hassen, Ibrahim Worku, 2013. "The formation of job referral networks: Experimental evidence from ubran Ethiopia:," IFPRI discussion papers 1282, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

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