The power of the family: kinship and intra-household decision making in rural Burundi

  • Rama Lionel Ngenzebuke
  • Bram De Rock
  • Philip Verwimp


In this paper we show that in rural Burundi the characteristics of the female’s kinship are highly correlated with her decision-making power. First, a female whose own immediate family is at least as rich as her husband’s counterpart enjoys a greater say over children- and asset-related decision-making. Second, the size, relative wealth and proximity of the extended family also matter. Third, kinship characteristics prove to be more important than (standard) individual and household characteristics. Finally, we also show that the female’s say over asset-related decision-making is positively associated with males’ education, more than with female’s education per se. All these correlation patterns can inform policies aiming at empowering women or targeting children through women’s empowerment.


Female decision-making Children Assets Kinship Rural Burundi 

JEL Classification

D19 D63 J12 J13 J16 



Bram De Rock: gratefully acknowledges Belspo, FNRS and FWO for their financial support. The authors would like to thank the Editor Shoshana Grossbard and the two anonymous referees for their insightful and constructive comments. They also thank the participants of the 2014 ENTER Jamboree in Stockholm-Sweden and of the International Economic Association World Congress in Amman-Jordan for useful discussion. The authors gratefully acknowledge financial support of the FNRS/FRFC (Fonds National de la Recherche Scientifique/Fonds de la Recherche Fondamentale Collective).


This study was funded by the Fonds National de la Recherche Scientifique.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ECARES (European Center for Advanced Research in Economics and Statistics)Université Libre de BruxellesBrusselsBelgium
  2. 2.CERMI (Centre for European Research in Microfinance)Université Libre de BruxellesBrusselsBelgium
  3. 3.ECARESUniversité Libre de BruxellesBrusselsBelgium
  4. 4.Department of EconomicsKU LeuvenLeuvenBelgium

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