Facing misfortune: Expenditures on magico-religious powers for cure and protection in Benin

P. LeMay-Boucher, J. Noret, V. Somville

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    11 Citations (Scopus)


    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.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)300
    Number of pages322
    JournalJournal of African Economies
    Issue number2
    Early online date15 Nov 2012
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


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