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Terror as a Bargaining Instrument: A Case Study of Dowry Violence in Rural India

  • Francis Bloch
  • Vijayendra Rao

This paper examines how domestic violence may be used as an instrument to extract large transfers from a spouse's family. It is based on a case-study of three villages in Southern India, conducted by the authors, that combines qualitative and survey data. Based on the ethnographic evidence, we develop a non-cooperative bargaining and signaling model of dowries and domestic violence. The predictions from these models are tested with survey data. We find that women who pay smaller dowries suffer an increased risk of marital violence, as do women who come from richer families.

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 92 (2002)
Issue (Month): 4 (September)
Pages: 1029-1043

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:92:y:2002:i:4:p:1029-1043
Note: DOI: 10.1257/00028280260344588
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  1. Lundberg, S. & Pollak, R.A., 1991. "Separate Spheres Bargaining and the Marriage Market," Working Papers 91-08, University of Washington, Department of Economics.
  2. Rao, Vijayendra, 1993. "The Rising Price of Husbands: A Hedonic Analysis of Dowry Increases in Rural India," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(4), pages 666-77, August.
  3. Robert A. Pollak, 2002. "An Intergenerational Model of Domestic Violence," NBER Working Papers 9099, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Tauchen, Helen V & Witte, Ann Dryden & Long, Sharon K, 1991. "Domestic Violence: A Nonrandom Affair," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 32(2), pages 491-511, May.
  5. Helen V. Tauchen & Ann Dryden Witte & Sharon K. Long, 1985. "Domestic Violence: A Non-random Affair," NBER Working Papers 1665, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. McElroy, Marjorie B & Horney, Mary Jean, 1981. "Nash-Bargained Household Decisions: Toward a Generalization of the Theory of Demand," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 22(2), pages 333-49, June.
  7. Rao, V., 1991. "A hedonic Analysis of Dowry in Rural India," University of Chicago - Economics Research Center 91-6, Chicago - Economics Research Center.
  8. Farmer, Amy & Tiefenthaler, Jill, 1996. "Domestic Violence: The Value of Services as Signals," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 274-79, May.
  9. Chwe, Michael Suk-Young, 1990. "Why Were Workers Whipped? Pain in a Principal-Agent Model," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(403), pages 1109-21, December.
  10. Alderman, Harold, et al, 1995. "Unitary versus Collective Models of the Household: Is It Time to Shift the Burden of Proof?," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 10(1), pages 1-19, February.
  11. Manser, Marilyn & Brown, Murray, 1980. "Marriage and Household Decision-Making: A Bargaining Analysis," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 21(1), pages 31-44, February.
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