Individualization of Marriage and Family Formation in Urban West Africa: Evidence from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

Anne-Emmanuèle Calvès, Université de Montréal
Khadija Malloum Boukar , Université de Montréal

Using unique survey data recently collected among young adults in Ouagadougou, the capital city of Burkina Faso, the present study explores the level of involvement of elders in the marriage and family formation process of young city-dwellers and how it varies across sub-groups of youth. While today the large majority of young adults in Ouagadougou marry or settle down with a partner of their choice, marriage in Ouagadougou remains a “family business”: parental approval is still a prerequisite and the majority of parents are involved in bridewealth payment. Female elders also remain central in the transmission of maternity knowledge to the next generation and the persistent authority of “mothers in law” in this domain is noteworthy. Co-residency with parents at the beginning of the union is also not uncommon and is largely dictated by economic constraints, with unemployment delaying the setting up of individual household by young married men.

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 Presented in Session P1. Marriage, Unions, Families, and Households