For Better and for Worse - How Unpaid Bride Wealth provides Security
AbstractThe obligation to pay bride wealth at marriage is usually associated with thecontinuation of the lineage or considered a compensation for the loss of laborfor the family that provides the bride. In this paper a different interpretationis advanced. The obligation to pay of bride wealth is seen as informal insurancewhich relies on the fact that bride wealth liabilities are contingent claims.Empirical evidence from Zimbabwe is presented to support this claim. In theabsence of formal insurance mechanisms, bride wealth qualifies as an importantsecurity enhancing institution: the arrangement covers nearly the completeZimbabwean adult population and permits to pool risks between many differentfamilies. Additionally the amounts involved are large and the period of timeduring which the claims provide security long. Like any informal insurancearrangement, the marriage system is prone to failure as a result of covariantrisk and information and enforcement problems. It is shown how the marriageprocedure deals with these problems.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Tinbergen Institute in its series Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers with number 00-079/2.
Date of creation: 09 Oct 2000
Date of revision:
Contact details of provider:
Web page: http://www.tinbergen.nl
Risk; Insurance; Institutions; Bride Wealth; Africa;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
- O17 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements
- Q14 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agricultural Finance
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-DEV-2000-11-08 (Development)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Dercon, Stefan, 2002.
"Income Risk, Coping Strategies and Safety Nets,"
Working Paper Series
UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
- Stefan Dercon, 2000. "Income risk, coping strategies and safety nets," CSAE Working Paper Series 2000-26, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
- Stefan Dercon, 2000. "Income risk, coping strategies and safety nets," Economics Series Working Papers WPS/2000-26, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
- Coate, Stephen & Ravallion, Martin, 1993. "Reciprocity without commitment : Characterization and performance of informal insurance arrangements," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 1-24, February.
- Scoones, Ian, 1992. "The economic value of livestock in the communal areas of southern Zimbabwe," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 39(4), pages 339-359.
- Arnott, Richard & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1991. "Moral Hazard and Nonmarket Institutions: Dysfunctional Crowding Out or Peer Monitoring?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(1), pages 179-90, March.
- Binswanger, Hans P & McIntire, John, 1987. "Behavioral and Material Determinants of Production Relations in Land-Abundant Tropical Agriculture," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(1), pages 73-99, October.
- Gauthier, Celine & Poitevin, Michel & Gonzalez, Patrick, 1997. "Ex Ante Payments in Self-Enforcing Risk-Sharing Contracts," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 76(1), pages 106-144, September.
- Skinner, Jonathan, 1988.
"Risky income, life cycle consumption, and precautionary savings,"
Journal of Monetary Economics,
Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 237-255, September.
- Jonathan S. Skinner, 1987. "Risky Income, Life Cycle Consumption, and Precautionary Savings," NBER Working Papers 2336, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Ravallion, Martin, 1996.
"Famines and economics,"
Policy Research Working Paper Series
1693, The World Bank.
- Timothy Besley, 1995. "Nonmarket Institutions for Credit and Risk Sharing in Low-Income Countries," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 115-127, Summer.
- Kinsey, Bill & Burger, Kees & Gunning, Jan Willem, 1998. "Coping with drought in Zimbabwe: Survey evidence on responses of rural households to risk," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 89-110, January.
- Udry, Christopher, 1990. "Credit Markets in Northern Nigeria: Credit as Insurance in a Rural Economy," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 4(3), pages 251-69, September.
- Jean-Philippe Platteau, 1997. "Mutual insurance as an elusive concept in traditional rural communities," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 33(6), pages 764-796.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Antoine Maartens (+31 626 - 160 892)).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.