On the Timing of Marriage, Cattle, and Shocks
In this paper, we focus on the timing of marriage of women, whose marriages are associated with bride wealth payments. These payments concern transfers from (the family of) the groom to the bride's family. Unmarried daughters could, therefore, be considered part of the asset portfolio of the household that, at times of need, can be cashed. We investigate, both theoretically and empirically, to what extent the timing of marriage of a daughter is affected by the economic conditions of the household from which she originates. We distinguish household-specific wealth levels and two types of shocks: correlated (weather) shocks and idiosyncratic (wealth) shocks. We estimate a duration model using a unique panel survey of Zimbabwean smallholder farmers. The estimation results support the hypothesis that the timing of marriage is affected by household characteristics; girls from households that experienced a negative idiosyncratic (wealth) shock are more likely to marry.
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