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Natural Shock and Marriage Markets: Evolution of Mehr and Dowry in Muslim Marriages

Author

Listed:
  • Shyamal Chowdhury

    (University of Sydney)

  • Debdulal Mallick

    (Deakin University)

  • Prabal Roy Chowdhury

    (Indian Statistical Institute, Delhi)

Abstract

We examine how mehr, a conditional payment from husbands to wives in the event of divorce, and dowry, a transfer from bride families to grooms at the time of marriage, have evolved through natural shocks. We develop a model of marriage market in which dowry acts as a groom price, whereas mehr serves to deter inecient divorces. Our comparative statics results show that the value of mehr is increasing (decreasing) in shocks that raise (lower) income while the eect of such shocks on dowry is ambiguous; even if dowry increases (decreases), the magnitude will be smaller than the corresponding increase (decrease) in mehr. We then exploit several natural experiments in Bangladesh, that include the Green Revolution around the 1960s, the Independence War in 1971 and the famine of 1974, to explain uctuations in the value of mehr and dowry observed in Muslim marriages. Using two household survey datasets in Bangladesh, we nd support for our theoretical predictions. To rule out alternative explanations, in particular the eect of legal changes, we exploit another natural experiment from the Indian state of West Bengal that experienced the same natural shocks, but not any of the legal shocks aecting Bangladesh. These results demonstrate that natural shocks may inuence the evolution of social institutions

Suggested Citation

  • Shyamal Chowdhury & Debdulal Mallick & Prabal Roy Chowdhury, 2017. "Natural Shock and Marriage Markets: Evolution of Mehr and Dowry in Muslim Marriages," Discussion Papers 17-02, Indian Statistical Institute, Delhi.
  • Handle: RePEc:alo:isipdp:17-02
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Youjin Hahn & Kanti Nuzhat & Hee-Seung Yang, 2018. "The effect of female education on marital matches and child health in Bangladesh," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 31(3), pages 915-936, July.
    2. Chowdhury, Shyamal & Mallick, Debdulal & Roy Chowdhury, Prabal, 2020. "Natural shocks and marriage markets: Fluctuations in mehr and dowry in Muslim marriages," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 128(C).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Dowry; Mehr; Muslim Family Law; Natural Shocks; Bangladesh; West Bengal;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion

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