MPIDR Working Paper

Family, obligations, and migration: the role of kinship in Cameroon

Fleischer, A.
MPIDR Working Paper WP-2006-047, 31 pages.
Rostock, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (November 2006)
Also published in: Demographic Research 16:13, 413-440 (2007). Internet:
Open Access


The aim of this paper is to investigate the influence of family and kin networks on the individual decision to migrate. The study is based on qualitative ethnographic data collected during field research in Cameroon and shows the considerable impact of the extended family on the migrant’s decision to leave Cameroon for Germany. Migrants do not necessarily set out to pursue individual goals. They are often delegated to leave by authority figures in their extended family. The individual is part of an informal reciprocal system of exchange, which is based on trust, has social consequences, and includes duties and responsibilities for both sides.
Keywords: Cameroon, Germany, decision making, kinship, migration, race relations, remittances
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