Education and Migration Choices in Hierarchical Societies: The Case of Matam, Senegal

Emmanuelle Auriol, and Jean-Luc Demonsant


This paper examines determinants of schooling in traditional hierarchical societies with an established history of outmigration. In the village, a ruling caste controls local political and religious institutions. For children who do not belong to the ruling caste, migration is a strategy to increase social mobility, a process that is enhanced by formal schooling. Since formally educated migrants tend not to return to the home community, the ruling caste seeks to develop family loyalty by choosing religious education instead. The theory hence predicts that the social status of the family has a significant impact on the parental educational choices of future migrant children. Children from the ruling caste who are encouraged by their parents to migrate have a lower probability of being sent to formal school than children from the low caste. The theoretical predictions are tested on data from the Matam region in Senegal, a region where roughly one of every two children has ever attended school.


Schooling; Migration; Social Status; Haalpulaar;

JEL codes

  • I21: Analysis of Education
  • O12: Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
  • O15: Human Resources • Human Development • Income Distribution • Migration
  • O17: Formal and Informal Sectors • Shadow Economy • Institutional Arrangements
  • Z13: Economic Sociology • Economic Anthropology • Social and Economic Stratification


See also

Published in

Regional Science and Urban Economics, vol. 42, May 2012, pp. 875–889