Published on 04/04/2014 | Author: Leomick SINSIN
The family tax: cultural heritage or economic burden to the rise of the African executives? That is the question that arose Benin Professor Leonard Wantchekon and that we highlight in this writing.
In Africa, it is customary to speak of the weight occupied by the family in the executives’ portfolio. The analysis also widens when we consider the role of the diaspora whose remittances are most often used to solve specific problems of family (health, education of children, purchase of equipment, funerals) rather than well-crafted investment projects.
It’s to explain, in a scientific accuracy that that Professor Wantchekon conducted a socio-economic study on education and human capital of Dahomey. Let’s recall that Professor Wantchekon, of Beninese origin, is a distinguished professor of economics often quoted as one of the figureheads of the economists of our time. Member of the Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, he is a professor at Princeton, the founding director of the Institute for Empirical Research in Political Economy and founder of the African School of Economics, which aims to train highly skilled mathematicians and economists on the continent.
The present study is based on the history of Dahomey at the time of colonization. As noted by the teacher at that time, going to school was part of a random decision because the mission was to convert the Western African people as a whole. Even some village chiefs were reluctant to send their children to school, as we read in the "Ambiguous Adventure" of Cheik Hamidou Kane, the choice of parents to send their children to school was solely an ideal (curiosity, proximity, employees settlers, etc.). Therefore, comparing the two groups of children (educated and others) is much more accurate and justified. Recall, however, that there is a strong causal link between the development of areas that housed within them a colonial school building because schools naturally attract various infrastructures such as lighting, clinic, administration, procurement, and others.
This first generation of educated therefore obtained higher revenues over time. Income justified by an insertion in government and in the management of former countries. They have thus become successful models for the whole family. Due to family solidarity, the first generation of educated has a duty to help nieces, nephews, cousins of the extended family to give them a chance to succeed. Only exception, over the years, the family has continued to grow, resulting in an increase in assistance. The double side of this support is that the children of this educated provide less efforts because they initially enjoy a better status. The study noted that 60% of children of executives of the 1960 cohort failed professionally. In the end, there is a higher probability of getting bogged down in a collective poverty trap because all the effort focuses on a single individual who can’t save and thus invest sustainably. Moreover, when the individual dies, family conflicts arise and clan wars.
The family support becomes like a family tax that adversely affects the relationship between the wife of the educated and the in-laws for the wife, with time, will feel that her husband sacrifices their children well too much. This higher bid of family support weighs even more now than the youth unemployment is rising. The lack of opportunities and assistance which are then of two orders: financial (tuition, TD, Supply contracts, housing) or physical (computer, means of travel, equipment, etc.) Continue to grow over time.
Overall, the study sheds light on a topic on which the framework for discussion was not often founded. Professor Wantchekon emphasizes that the third and fourth generations of educated are ours. By basing the study on this, we’ll be ignoring the essence, history and the causes of the persistent phenomenon. It’s therefore urgent to redefine the framework of family support and have more informed husbands and wives.
Let us then say that even though we may consider education as a long-term investment, we also need conditions that govern the funding of such education.
To learn more about Professor Wantchekon and his idea of education Click here to listen to the interview in French on the "Thèses and Mémoires" show on the radio "Universe" of the University of Abomey. Click here to listen to the interview of Professor Wantchékon on the "Newsday" BBC show.