Social Change and Ethnic Variation in Seasonality of Marriage in Sub-Saharan Africa

Tom O. Owuor, Pennsylvania State University

Historical scholars have long been aware of the existence of seasonal variation on vital events (Barrett, 1990). Much of the study on seasonality of events has however been restricted to western societies (e.g. Cressy, 1985). The few studies that have looked at sub Saharan Africa have restricted their analysis to seasonality of births and deaths and rarely on marriage. I argue that marriage in Africa is rooted in cultural practices which may vary by ethnicity. Further many of the agricultural systems in Africa not only vary by ethnic group but also by variation in season (busy or otherwise) which may affect marriage consumation. Yet relatively few studies have examined seasonality of marriage in Sub Saharan Africa. In this paper I use data sets 20+ years apart to examine ethnic variation in seasonality of marriage in Africa and the effect of social change on the same.

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Presented in Poster Session 2: Family, Households, Unions; Data, Methods, Study Design