Essays on Household Economics in Sub Saharan Africa

Date: 13 March 2020

Venue: UAntwerpen, Stadscampus, Graduation Hall, Grauwzusters Cloister - Lange Sint-Annastraat 7 - 2000 Antwerp (route: UAntwerpen, Stadscampus)

Time: 4:00 PM

PhD candidate: Sahawal Alidou

Principal investigator: Prof. dr. Marijke Verpoorten, Prof. dr. Johan Swinnen

Short description: PhD defence Sahawal Alidou - Faculty of Business and Economics


This thesis consists of a brief introduction (Chapter 1) and three substantive chapters.

Using a compilation of 86 Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) rounds from 34 countries, Chapter 2 assesses the impact of household fertility on children schooling in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Exploiting plausible exogeneity of twins birth to address endogeneity of family size, the study concludes that smaller families do not necessarily lead to more schooling for children in SSA.

In the wake of studies linking development outcomes to culture and social norms, Chapter 3 investigates how magico-religious beliefs affect parental investment in child human capital. To test this hypothesis, the case of twins which are venerated and worshipped as deities in Benin, is used. Based on DHS data collected over 1996-2017, the results pinpoint to a twins preferential treatment in parental investment in child health.

Finally, Chapter 4 uncovers cross-cultural determinants of women’s autonomy and their participation into household decisions, based on data from four West-African countries that include ethnic groups that practice(d) voodoo. It finds a more pronounced age-dividend in women’s autonomy in ethnic groups that practice(d) voodoo, and a menopause-dividend only observed among women from these groups. These dividends in women’s autonomy are explained by (historical) beliefs regarding the supernatural powers of post-menopausal women in voodoo.