Family Prestige as Old-Age Security: Evidence from Rural Senegal
This paper aims at studying the self-enforcing family contract between a migrant son and his ageing father who remained in the village and expects to receive support. In 2004, a household survey conducted in the Senegal River Valley was especially designed to account for the complex socio-political structure of the local institutions. The empirical results suggest that the social rank of the family within the village is a key to the enforcement mechanisms at work. Indeed, while belonging to a prestigious family lowers the probability of migrating, it raises the probability of frequently remitting to the patriarch. Conversely, sons from historically disadvantaged groups are more likely to both migrate and cut ties with their village of origin, including their family. Additional qualitative evidence is rather suggestive that despite their economic success, low status migrants keep being stigmatized in their village of origin. Hence, inheriting his father's dominant position in the village represents a strong incentive for a migrant son from a high-ranked family to remit. Under such circumstances, patriarchs from prestigious families only, can actually rely on their migrating sons as old-age security.
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