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Institution, Gender, and Economic Development: A Case Study of Two Igbo Village

Raluca Iorgulescu

Working Papers of Institute for Economic Forecasting from Institute for Economic Forecasting

Abstract: This dissertation explores new directions in economic theory based on field research in two Igbo villages in Nigeria (Umuluwe - representative of traditional Igbo villages and Obigo - representative of suburban, more modern, Igbo villages). Results from Ultimatum and Dictator Games played in Umuluwe show the importance of cultural context in economic behavior (endogenous preferences). The importance of endogenous preferences, as opposed to concepts of Pareto efficiency and Potential Pareto Improvement. The information provided by the 2001 survey, regarding the age, ocupation, education, income, number of children, affiliation to different associations, and other data, allows us to compare the social-economic characteristics of the villagers in Umuluwe and Obigbo. The migration between Umuluwe and Obigbo is analysed. Young people from Umuluwe migrate to Obigbo in search of better employment and education opportunities while retired people from Obigbo return to Umuluwe. In addition to the human flows, the the income flows from Obigbo to Umuluwe reveal a symbiotic rural-suburban relationship between the two villages. As modernization changed the traditional socio-economic structure and institution, it also enhanced the role of the symbiotic relationship between the two villages in Igbo society within the traditonal cultural matrix (based on the patrilineal polygamous extended family). Based on the survey results, the labor market decision-making in the two villages is examined using a binary logit model. The occupational structure revealed for Umuluwe and Obigbo villages is analyzed in combination with personal characteristics, households demograhics, and economic conditions in the village of residence. This study allows us to conduct the discussion regarding the probability of an individual to have a paid occupation vs. a non-paid occupation at two levels: (1) decision-making of male vs. female villages and (2) decision-making of Umuluwe vs. Obigbo residents. The results are consistent with the traditional cultural and institutional pattern in Igbo society.

Pages: 13 pages
Date: 2008-11
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-dev and nep-lab
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