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Forced Marriage and Birth Outcomes


  • Charles M. Becker

    (Duke University)

  • Bakhrom Mirkasimov

    (Westminster International University in Tashkent (WIUT)
    University of Central Asia (UCA))

  • Susan Steiner

    (Leibniz Universität Hannover
    Institute of Labor Economics (IZA))


We study the impact of marriages resulting from bride kidnapping on infant birth weight. Bride kidnapping—a form of forced marriage—implies that women are abducted by men and have little choice other than to marry their kidnappers. Given this lack of choice over the spouse, we expect adverse consequences for women in such marriages. Remarkable survey data from the Central Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan enable exploration of differential birth outcomes for women in kidnap-based and other types of marriage using both OLS and IV estimation. We find that children born to mothers in kidnap-based marriages have lower birth weight compared with children born to other mothers. The largest difference is between kidnap-based and arranged marriages: the magnitude of the birth weight loss is in the range of 2 % to 6 % of average birth weight. Our finding is one of the first statistically sound estimates of the impact of forced marriage and implies not only adverse consequences for the women involved but potentially also for their children.

Suggested Citation

  • Charles M. Becker & Bakhrom Mirkasimov & Susan Steiner, 2017. "Forced Marriage and Birth Outcomes," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 54(4), pages 1401-1423, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:demogr:v:54:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s13524-017-0591-1
    DOI: 10.1007/s13524-017-0591-1

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Arabsheibani, G. Reza & Kudebayeva, Alma & Mussurov, Altay, 2021. "A note on bride kidnapping and labour supply behaviour of Kyrgyz women," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 45(4).
    2. Arabsheibani, Reza & Kudebayeva, Alma & Mussurov, Altay, 2021. "Bride Kidnapping and Labour Supply Behaviour of Married Kyrgyz Women," IZA Discussion Papers 14133, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. Landmann, Andreas & Seitz, Helke & Steiner, Susan, 2017. "Patrilocal Residence and Female Labour Supply," IZA Discussion Papers 10890, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. Freudenreich, Hanna & Aladysheva, Anastasia & Brück, Tilman, 2022. "Weather shocks across seasons and child health: Evidence from a panel study in the Kyrgyz Republic," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 155(C).
    5. Aizhamal Rakhmetova & Ivan Trestcov, 2023. "Weather Shocks and Bride Kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp764, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economics Institute, Prague.
    6. Pal, Sumantra, 2018. "Spousal Violence and Social Norms in India's North East," EconStor Preprints 179422, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics.
    7. Andreas Landmann & Helke Seitz & Susan Steiner, 2018. "Patrilocal Residence and Female Labor Supply: Evidence From Kyrgyzstan," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 55(6), pages 2181-2203, December.
    8. Bazarkulova, Dana & Compton, Janice, 2021. "Marriage traditions and investment in education: The case of bride kidnapping," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 147-163.
    9. Susan Steiner & Charles M. Becker, 2019. "How marriages based on bride capture differ: Evidence from Kyrgyzstan," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 41(20), pages 579-592.
    10. Lin, Chung-Liang, 2021. "Postpartum medical utilization: The role of prenatal economic activity and living costs," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 41(C).
    11. Arabsheibani, G. Reza & Kudebayeva, Alma & Mussurov, Altay, 2021. "A note on bride kidnapping and labour supply behaviour of Kyrgyz women," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 113438, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.

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