IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Marriage Timing and Forward Contracts in Marriage


  • Gani Aldashev
  • Zaki Wahhaj


We study how contractual incompleteness affects marriage contracts, including premarital investments in human capital, age of marriage, and the timing of payments. We formalise different solutions to the contractual problem and document their use across societies and at different points in history. The most common form of marriage arrangement today is one where human capital investments precede the marriage agreement. However, two other forms of contractual arrangements have also been prevalent in the past: (i) transfer of the bride to the groom's family prior to human capital investments (e.g. pre-pubescent marriages); (ii) a forward contract specifies investments to be made in the bride before her transfer to the groom's family (e.g. cradle betrothal). Each alternative suffers from a form of inefficiency (due, respectively, to search costs, agency problems in childrearing, and underinvestment due to the classical hold-up problem). The model generates predictions regarding the contractual form adopted as a function of the prevailing production technology, population density, and credit constraints. We argue that a theory of marriages that allows contractual form to be endogenous provide insights about the impact of development policies that are missed when the contractual form is taken as given.

Suggested Citation

  • Gani Aldashev & Zaki Wahhaj, 2019. "Marriage Timing and Forward Contracts in Marriage," Working Papers ECARES 2019-20, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  • Handle: RePEc:eca:wpaper:2013/293782

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: Œuvre complète ou partie de l'œuvre
    Download Restriction: no


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eca:wpaper:2013/293782. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Benoit Pauwels). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.