Family structure and labour migration. A longitudinal study in rural Mali

Marie Lesclingand, Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED)
Véronique Hertrich, Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED)

Large households, family-based production and seasonal migration are common features of Sahelian populations. These characteristics are usually considered as answers to the harshness of the living conditions. On the one hand, important family size helps to face the constraints of the agricultural season by having enough labor force during the short and uncertain time of farming. On the other hand, labor migration may be use as a way to complete the farming resources and to compensate for the food production deficiencies. According this framework, one can expect the probability for individual labor migration to vary according the size and the structure of his domestic group. Pressure for regular seasonal migration should be strong in small households while large families may have more diversified migration behaviors. This question will be analyzed in the context of rural Mali, using a follow-up survey conducted from 1988 to 2004 in seven villages (about 4000 hab.).

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Presented in Session 32: Population, development and environment in developing countries