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Taboos, agriculture and poverty

  • Marcel Fafchamps
  • David Stifel

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.

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Paper provided by University of Oxford, Department of Economics in its series Economics Series Working Papers with number CSAE WPS/2009-15.

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Date of creation: 01 Jul 2009
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Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:csae-wps/2009-15
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  1. 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.
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  10. Cogneau, Denis & Robilliard, Anne-Sophie, 2000. "Growth, distribution and poverty in Madagascar," TMD discussion papers 61, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  11. David Stifel & Bart Minten, 2008. "Isolation and agricultural productivity," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 39(1), pages 1-15, 07.
  12. Do, Quy-Toan & Phung, Tung Duc, 2006. "Superstition, family planning, and human development," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4001, The World Bank.
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  14. La Ferrara, Eliana, 2003. "Kin Groups and Reciprocity: A Model of Credit Transactions in Ghana," CEPR Discussion Papers 3705, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  15. 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.
  16. Fafchamps, Marcel, 2000. "Ethnicity and credit in African manufacturing," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 205-235, February.
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