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Taboos, agriculture and poverty

Author

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  • David Stifel
  • Marcel Fafchamps
  • Bart Minten

Abstract

Although cultural practices often have important consequences for household consumption and economic performance, they are seldom studied by economists. To fill this gap we study the impact of taboos on agriculture and poverty. Madagascar is a good case study for this purpose given the prevalence of taboos in everyday life and the variation in cultural practices across the country. We examine the relationship between observance of work taboos (fady days) and agriculture and consumption. Using cross-sectional data from a national household survey, we find that 18% of agricultural households have two or more fady days per week and that an extra fady day is associated with 6 percent lower per capita consumption level and 5 percent lower rice productivity – controlling for human, ethnic and physical characteristics. To deal with the possible endogeneity of fady days, we present instrumental variable estimates as well as heterogeneous effect regressions using village fixed effects. We find that smaller households and those with less education employ less labor in villages with more fady days.

Suggested Citation

  • David Stifel & Marcel Fafchamps & Bart Minten, 2009. "Taboos, agriculture and poverty," CSAE Working Paper Series 2009-15, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  • Handle: RePEc:csa:wpaper:2009-15
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    File URL: http://www.csae.ox.ac.uk/materials/papers/2009-15text.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Siobhan Austen, 2003. "Culture and the Labour Market," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 3018, April.
    2. Michael Lokshin & Nithin Umapathi & Stefano Paternostro, 2006. "Robustness of subjective welfare analysis in a poor developing country: Madagascar 2001," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 42(4), pages 559-591.
    3. Timothy Conley & Udry Christopher, 2001. "Social Learning Through Networks: The Adoption of New Agricultural Technologies in Ghana," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 83(3), pages 668-673.
    4. Darity, William Jr & Guilkey, David & Winfrey, William, 1995. "Ethnicity, race, and earnings," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 47(3-4), pages 401-408, March.
    5. Cogneau, Denis & Robilliard, Anne-Sophie, 2000. "Growth, distribution and poverty in Madagascar," TMD discussion papers 61, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    6. Do, Quy-Toan & Phung, Tung Duc, 2006. "Superstition, family planning, and human development," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4001, The World Bank.
    7. Bodenhorn, Howard, 1999. "A Troublesome Caste: Height and Nutrition of Antebellum Virginia's Rural Free Blacks," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 59(04), pages 972-996, December.
    8. Moser, Christine M. & Barrett, Christopher B., 2003. "The disappointing adoption dynamics of a yield-increasing, low external-input technology: the case of SRI in Madagascar," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 1085-1100, June.
    9. Jacoby, Hanan G. & Minten, Bart, 2009. "On measuring the benefits of lower transport costs," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(1), pages 28-38, May.
    10. Fafchamps, Marcel, 2000. "Ethnicity and credit in African manufacturing," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 205-235, February.
    11. van de Walle, Dominique & Gunewardena, Dileni, 2001. "Sources of ethnic inequality in Viet Nam," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 177-207, June.
    12. Ai, Chunrong & Norton, Edward C., 2003. "Interaction terms in logit and probit models," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 80(1), pages 123-129, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ouedraogo, Aissatou, 2015. "Family Structure and Intrahousehold Resource Allocation: Evidence from Mali," 2015 AAEA & WAEA Joint Annual Meeting, July 26-28, San Francisco, California 205772, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association;Western Agricultural Economics Association.

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