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 elicit information on expenditures on magico-religious diagnosis, prevention and treatment in the twelve 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 to transfers to acquaintances and relatives in dealing with redistributive pressures.

See also: