Publication: Customary Norms, Inheritance, and Human Capital: Evidence from a Reform of the Matrilineal System in Ghana
La Ferrera, Eliana
We study the role of traditional norms in land allocation and human capital investment. We exploit a policy experiment in Ghana that increased the land that children from matrilineal groups could inherit from their fathers. Boys exposed to the reform received 0.9 less years of education—an effect driven by landed households, for whom the reform was binding. We find no effect for girls, whose inheritance was de facto unaffected. These patterns suggest that before the reform matrilineal groups invested more in education than they would if unconstrained, to substitute for land inheritance, underscoring the importance of cultural norms.