Economic hardship and transformation of unions in Kinshasa

By Jocelyn Nappa, Bruno Schoumaker, Albert Phongi, Marie-Laurence Flahaux, Catriona Dutreuilh

Kinshasa, a metropolis with a population of 10 million, has undergone major economic, social, and demographic transformations over recent decades. This article analyses changes in marriage practices in Kinshasa against a backdrop of worsening economic conditions and high unemployment. Data from the MAFE survey (Migration between Africa and Europe) conducted in Kinshasa in 2009 reveal the decline in first unions and in marriages, for men and women alike. Event history analyses show that economic hardship reduces the likelihood of marriage. The effects of economic factors are stronger for men than for women, and the difference in marriage likelihood between rich and poor men has widened over time. These findings can be explained in part by the rising cost of marriage, shouldered mainly by the groom and his family, and the growing difficulty of acquiring the necessary sums of money. In this context, consensual unions and non-marital births are becoming more frequent and are tending to replace formal marriage.

  • marriage
  • union
  • employment
  • DR Congo
  • Kinshasa
  • event history
  • economic crisis
Go to the article on