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The Price of Gold: Dowry and Death in India

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  • Bhalotra, Sonia
  • Chakravarty, Abhishek
  • Gulesci, Selim

Abstract

We provide evidence that dowry costs motivate son-preferring behaviors in India. Since gold is an integral part of dowry, we study parental responses to shocks in the world gold price. Exploiting monthly variation in gold prices across 35 years, as well as an event study around a massive gold price hike in December 1979, we find that monthly changes in gold prices lead to an increase in girl relative to boy neonatal mortality and that the surviving girls are shorter. After the introduction of prenatal sex determination technology, we find that gold price shocks increase female foeticide.

Suggested Citation

  • Bhalotra, Sonia & Chakravarty, Abhishek & Gulesci, Selim, 2018. "The Price of Gold: Dowry and Death in India," CEPR Discussion Papers 12712, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:12712
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    commodity price shocks; dowry; gold price; missing girls; neonatal mortality; son preference;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I14 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Inequality
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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