“No Money, No Honey?”: Poverty and Youth Relationships in Urban West Africa

Anne-Emmanuèle Calvès, Université de Montréal
Jean-Paul Peumi, Université de Montréal

In Burkina Faso, the expectation that a young man has to financially support his girlfriend is deeply rooted in social norms regarding gender roles. With the persistent economic crisis and increasing youth unemployment, this financial obligation seems more and more difficult to fulfill, however. Qualitative studies have reported the frustration of unemployed and poorer young men in West African cities who fear prolonged sexual abstinence or difficulties to keep their girlfriend due to their economic condition. This sexual marginalization of poorer city-dwellers suggested by anthropological evidence has yet to be explored quantitatively. Based on unique life history data collected in 2010 in Ouagadougou, the purpose of the study is to contribute filling this research gap. The study analyzes the effect of young males’ socioeconomic background, working and living conditions on their ability to meet and keep a girlfriend as well as to engage in multiple sexual relationships over time.

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Presented in Session 201: Adolescent Sexual Behavior, Risk-Taking and Health