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Pre-marital confinement of women: A signaling and matching approach

Author

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  • Rai, Birendra
  • Sengupta, Kunal

Abstract

Parents in several cultures ‘discipline’ their daughters to inculcate the supposedly feminine virtues and improve their prospects in the marriage market. This process invariably involves imposing restrictions on their behavior, movement, and social relations. We refer to such practices as pre-marital confinement and provide a unified game-theoretic framework which encompasses the different arguments that have been advanced by social scientists to explain pre-marital confinement. The proposed framework views confinement by parents as an intrinsically valueless or valuable signal of some unobservable characteristic of their daughters which is valued by men in the marriage market. We focus on identifying the conditions that lead to a societal norm of confinement. We also show that, behind a veil of ignorance where gender is unknown, agents will choose to prohibit rather than permit confinement if it is intrinsically valueless and the parameters characterizing the society are such that the ex-post equilibrium would involve pooling.

Suggested Citation

  • Rai, Birendra & Sengupta, Kunal, 2013. "Pre-marital confinement of women: A signaling and matching approach," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 48-63.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:105:y:2013:i:c:p:48-63
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jdeveco.2013.07.003
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. repec:dgr:rugsom:14017-eef is not listed on IDEAS
    2. De Cao, Elisabetta & Lutz, Clemens, 2014. "Sensitive survey questions," Research Report 14017-EEF, University of Groningen, Research Institute SOM (Systems, Organisations and Management).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Signaling; Matching; Norms; FGM; Footbinding; Peer pressure;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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