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Age of Marriage, Weather Shocks, and the Direction of Marriage Payments

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  • Lucia Corno
  • Nicole Hildebrandt
  • Alessandra Voena

Abstract

We study how aggregate economic conditions affect the timing of marriage, and particularly child marriage, in Sub‐Saharan Africa and in India. In both regions, substantial monetary or in‐kind transfers occur with marriage: bride price across Sub‐Saharan Africa and dowry in India. In a simple equilibrium model of the marriage market in which parents choose when their children marry, income shocks affect the age of marriage because marriage payments are a source of consumption smoothing, particularly for a woman's family. As predicted by our model, we show that droughts, which reduce annual crop yields by 10 to 15% and aggregate income by 4 to 5%, have opposite effects on the marriage behavior of a sample of 400,000 women in the two regions: in Sub‐Saharan Africa they increase the annual hazard into child marriage by 3%, while in India droughts reduce such a hazard by 4%. Changes in the age of marriage due to droughts are associated with changes in fertility, especially in Sub‐Saharan Africa, and with declines in observed marriage payments. Our results indicate that the age of marriage responds to short‐term changes in aggregate economic conditions and that marriage payments determine the sign of this response. This suggests that, in order to design successful policies to combat child marriage and improve investments in daughters' human capital, it is crucial to understand the economic role of marriage market institutions.

Suggested Citation

  • Lucia Corno & Nicole Hildebrandt & Alessandra Voena, 2020. "Age of Marriage, Weather Shocks, and the Direction of Marriage Payments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 88(3), pages 879-915, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:emetrp:v:88:y:2020:i:3:p:879-915
    DOI: 10.3982/ECTA15505
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    1. Brian C. Thiede & Matthew Hancock & Ahmed Kodouda & James Piazza, 2020. "Exposure to Armed Conflict and Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 57(6), pages 2113-2141, December.
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    3. Marchetta, Francesca & Sahn, David E. & Tiberti, Luca & Dufour, Johany, 2021. "Heterogeneity in Migration Responses to Climate Shocks: Evidence from Madagascar," IZA Discussion Papers 14052, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. S Anukriti & Sungoh Kwon & Nishith Prakash, 2018. "Household Savings and Marriage Payments: Evidence from Dowry in India," Working papers 2018-09, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
    5. Lorena Hakak & Paula Pereda, 2021. "Marriage in the time of the HIV/AIDS epidemic," Working Papers, Department of Economics 2021_07, University of São Paulo (FEA-USP).
    6. Magda Tsaneva, 2020. "The Effect of Weather Variability on Child Marriage in Bangladesh," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 32(8), pages 1346-1359, November.
    7. Villar, Paola, 2021. "Paternal mortality, early marriages, and marital trajectories in Senegal," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 142(C).
    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. Sylvain Eloi Dessy & Francesca Marchetta & Roland Pongou & Luca Tiberti, 2019. "Fertility Response to Climate Shocks," Working Papers PMMA 2019-06, PEP-PMMA.
    10. Momoe Makino & Abu S. Shonchoy & Zaki Wahhaj, 2021. "Early Effects of the COVID-19 Lockdown on Children in Rural Bangladesh," Studies in Economics 2102, School of Economics, University of Kent.
    11. Bhalotra, Sonia & Chakravarty, Abhishek & Gulesci, Selim, 2020. "The price of gold: Dowry and death in India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 143(C).
    12. Labonne, Julien & Parsa, Sahar & Querubin, Pablo, 2021. "Political dynasties, term limits and female political representation: Evidence from the Philippines," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 182(C), pages 212-228.
    13. McGavock, Tamara, 2021. "Here waits the bride? The effect of Ethiopia's child marriage law," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 149(C).
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    18. Stelios Michalopoulos & Elias Papaioannou, 2020. "Historical Legacies and African Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 58(1), pages 53-128, March.
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    JEL classification:

    • J10 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - General
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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