Drought and saving in West Africa: are livestock a buffer stock?

Marcel Fafchamps*, Christopher Udry, Katherine Czukas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

295 Scopus citations


Households in the West African semi-arid tropics (WASAT) face substantial risk - an inevitable consequence of engaging in rainfed agriculture in a drought-prone environment. It has long been hypothesized that these households keep livestock as a buffer stock to insulate their consumption from income fluctuations. This paper tests this hypothesis. Results indicate that livestock transactions play less of a consumption smoothing role than often assumed. Livestock sales compensate for at most thirty percent, and probably closer to fifteen percent of income shortfalls due to village-level shocks alone. We discuss possible explanations for these results and suggest directions for future work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)273-305
Number of pages33
JournalJournal of Development Economics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Economics and Econometrics


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