Rural-to-urban migration, kinship networks, and fertility among the Igbo in Nigeria

  • Daniel Jordan Smith Department of Anthropology, Box 1921, 128 Hope Street, Brown University Providence, Rhode Island 02912 U.S.A.
Keywords: anthropological demography, migration, kinship, reproductive behavior, Nigeria


Like many African rural-to-urban migrants, Igbo-speaking migrants to cities in Nigeria maintain close ties to their places of origin. ‘Home people’ constitute a vital core of most migrants’ social networks. The institution of kinship enables migrants to negotiate Nigeria’s clientelistic political economy. In this context, dichotomous distinctions between rural and urban can be inappropriate analytical concepts because kinship obligations and community ties that extend across rural and urban space create a continuous social field. This paper presents ethnographic data to suggest that fertility behavior in contemporary Igbo-speaking Nigeria cannot be understood without taking into account the ways in which rural and urban social and demographic regimes are mutually implicated and dialectically constituted (anthropological demography; migration; kinship; reproductive behavior; Nigeria.