Drawing on data we collected in Cotonou (southern Benin), we highlight the importance of magico-religious expenditures within Beninese households. We focus on magico-religious powers used to cure and protect one-self or relatives against negative health shocks and other misfortunes. Our questionnaire elicits information on expenditures on magico-religious diagnosis, prevention and treatment in the 12 months prior to our survey. Far from being anecdotal, our data show that out of the 178 households in our sample, 48% have declared some magico-religious expenditures. For these household heads, these expenditures represented on average 5.6% of all expenditures. Using an econometric analysis, we test several conjectures that can be found in the relevant literature as to what variables drive magico-religious expenditures. We find that the main determinants are economic success and tensions within the family and that economically successful agents resort to magico-religious expenditures as a substitute for transfers to acquaintances and relatives in dealing with redistributive pressures.
LeMay-Boucher, P., Noret, J., & Somville, V. (2013). Facing misfortune: Expenditures on magico-religious powers for cure and protection in Benin. Journal of African Economies, 22(2), 300. https://doi.org/10.1093/jae/ejs032