All in the Family: Explaining the Persistence of Female Genital Cutting in the Gambia

39 Pages Posted: 17 Jun 2013

See all articles by Marc F. Bellemare

Marc F. Bellemare

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Department of Applied Economics

Tara Steinmetz

University of California, Davis

Date Written: June 16, 2013

Abstract

Why does female genital cutting (FGC) persist in certain places while has declined elsewhere? Using survey data from the Gambia, we study an important aspect of the persistence of FGC, namely the relationship between (i) whether a woman has undergone FGC and (ii) her support for the practice. Our data exhibit sufficient intrahousehold variation in both FGC status and in support for the practice to allow controlling for unobserved heterogeneity between households. First, our results suggest that a woman who has undergone FGC 40 percentage points more likely to be in favor of the practice, from a baseline likelihood of 40%. Second, our findings indicate that 85% of the relationship between whether a woman has undergone FGC and her support for the practice can be attributed to individual- or household-level factors, but that only 15% of that relationship can be explained by factors at the village level or beyond. This suggests that village-wide pledges against FGC, though they have worked well in neighboring Senegal, are unlikely to be effective in the Gambia. Rather, policies aimed at eliminating FGC in this context should instead target individuals and households if they are to be effective.

Keywords: Female Genital Cutting, Female Genital Mutilation, Sexual and Reproductive Health, Africa, Gambia

JEL Classification: I15, O10

Suggested Citation

Bellemare, Marc F. and Steinmetz, Tara, All in the Family: Explaining the Persistence of Female Genital Cutting in the Gambia (June 16, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2280086 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2280086

Marc F. Bellemare (Contact Author)

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Department of Applied Economics ( email )

MN
United States

Tara Steinmetz

University of California, Davis ( email )

One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616
United States

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