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Household Structures and Savings: Evidence from Household Surveys


  • Juan Ramón de Laiglesia
  • Christian Morrisson


This paper examines the relationship between household structures, the institutions that shape them and physical and human capital accumulation using household and individual data from China, Indonesia, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. Household structures differ greatly across countries and are very diverse within countries. In the two African countries studied a large share of the population live in extended households and/or polygamous ones. Such household structures are the exception or even absent in the Asian cases, where nuclear monogamous households prevail. This paper finds that polygamy is negatively related to capital accumulation. Wealth per capita is significantly lower in polygamous households even after controlling for income, age and literacy of the household head. A first analysis of the possible channels suggests that the larger size of polygamous households plays an important role. A similar result is found for education: enrolment rates are never higher but frequently lower in these households. The diversity across countries demonstrates that polygamy has very different meanings across societies... Ce document examine les relations entre les structures des ménages, les institutions qui les façonnent et l’accumulation de capital physique et humain, en utilisant des données par ménage et par individu en provenance de Chine, d’Indonésie, de Côte-d’Ivoire et du Ghana. Les structures des ménages varient beaucoup d’un pays à l’autre et sont très diverses à l’intérieur même des pays. Dans les deux pays africains étudiés une partie importante de la population vit dans des ménages étendus et/ou polygames. De telles structures des ménages sont l’exception ou même absentes dans les pays d’Asie où le ménage nucléaire et monogame prédomine. Ce document constate que la polygamie a une relation négative avec le processus d’accumulation de capital. La richesse par tête est significativement inférieure dans les ménages polygames même après avoir contrôlé par le revenu, l’âge et l’éducation du chef de ménage. Une première analyse des mécanismes possibles qui pourraient expliquer ces résultats suggère que la taille plus grande des ménages polygames joue un rôle important. On trouve un résultat semblable pour l’éducation : les taux de scolarisation ne sont jamais supérieurs mais souvent moins élevés dans ces ménages. La diversité selon les pays prouve que la polygamie a des significations très différentes selon les sociétés...

Suggested Citation

  • Juan Ramón de Laiglesia & Christian Morrisson, 2008. "Household Structures and Savings: Evidence from Household Surveys," OECD Development Centre Working Papers 267, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:devaaa:267-en

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Laitner, John, 1993. "Intergenerational and interhousehold economic links," Handbook of Population and Family Economics,in: M. R. Rosenzweig & Stark, O. (ed.), Handbook of Population and Family Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 5, pages 189-238 Elsevier.
    2. Juan Ramón de Laiglesia, 2006. "Institutional Bottlenecks for Agricultural Development: A Stock-Taking Exercise Based on Evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa," OECD Development Centre Working Papers 248, OECD Publishing.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ernesto Savaglio, 2012. "Multidimensional Inequality with Variable Household Weight," Department of Economics University of Siena 667, Department of Economics, University of Siena.

    More about this item


    accueil des enfants; accumulation de capital; Africa; Afrique; capital accumulation; famille d’accueil; fostering; household structure; polygamie; polygamy; saving; structure des ménages; épargne;

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O16 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Financial Markets; Saving and Capital Investment; Corporate Finance and Governance
    • Z10 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - General

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