Volume 37 - Article 5 | Pages 101–128  

Union breakdown in West African cities: The cases of Ouagadougou and Lomé

By Bilampoa Gnoumou

This article is part of the Special Collection 21 "Separation, Divorce, Repartnering, and Remarriage around the World"


Background: Marriage remains a strong institution in Africa, but union breakdown may be frequent, particularly in urban areas. However, this issue is still little studied, especially in West Africa.

Objective: I examine the trends and factors associated with divorce and separation that lead to union breakdown in two West African cities: Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso and Lomé in Togo.

Methods: Analyses are based on marital history data from the Economic Activities, Resource- sharing and Management of Spending in Urban Households survey, collected in 2012 in Ouagadougou and Lomé. We use the Kaplan–Meier estimator and Cox proportional hazards model for descriptive and multivariate analysis, respectively.

Results: The probability of union breakdown is higher in Lomé than in Ouagadougou. The celebration of the union and having a son are associated with lower risk of divorce, while infertility or low fertility and education are associated with higher risk of divorce, for men and women in both cities. Socialization in a big town is also associated with higher risk of divorce, especially for women.

Conclusions: The results indicate that even if urban areas represent the ideal of modernization and social change in Africa, family and society still play an important role in union stability.

Contribution: The consideration of both men and women in the analysis is an important contribution to the study of union breakdown in Africa.

Author's Affiliation

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

Effects of Parental Union Dissolution on Child Mortality and Child Schooling in Burkina Faso
Volume 29 - Article 29

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