Too Poor to Marry?

Urban Employment Crisis and Men's First Entry into Union in Burkina Faso
By Anne-Emmanuèle Calvès, Roger Depledge


Using a detailed event history survey carried out in Burkina Faso in 2000 (EMIUB), this article studies the effect of deteriorating urban employment conditions in the 1990s on men’s first union formation. The results show that young city-dwellers’ first entry into union is significantly delayed and the manner of union formation has also changed. Periods of cohabitation are more frequent among men in the most recent cohorts (1965-1974), some wedding ceremonies are now postponed or called off, and the entire matrimonial process is tending to last longer. Whereas for the oldest cohorts (1945-1954) the date of first marriage was not a matter of money, among the youngest, obtaining a paid job is crucial to forming a first union. The results also show that as urban employment is increasingly informal, inequalities with respect to marriage are emerging among young men in the most recent cohorts according to the type of work they do.

Go to the article on