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

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Listed:
  • Lucia Corno

    () (Cattolica University)

  • Nicole Hildebrandt

    () (Boston Consulting Group)

  • Alessandra Voena

    () (The University of Chicago)

Abstract

This paper studies how aggregate economic conditions affect marriage markets in developing countries where marriage is regulated by traditional customary norms. We examine how local economics shocks influence the timing of marriage, and particularly child marriage, in Sub-Saharan Africa and in India, where 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%, 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 traditional norms determine this response. This suggests that, in order to design successful policies to combat child marriage and improve investments in daughters' human capital, it it crucial to understand the economic role of traditional cultural norms.

Suggested Citation

  • Lucia Corno & Nicole Hildebrandt & Alessandra Voena, 2017. "Age of Marriage, Weather Shocks, and the Direction of Marriage Payments," Working Papers 2017-055, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
  • Handle: RePEc:hka:wpaper:2017-055
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Paola Giuliano & Nathan Nunn, 2018. "Ancestral Characteristics of Modern Populations," Economic History of Developing Regions, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 33(1), pages 1-17, January.
    3. Bhalotra, Sonia R. & Chakravarty, Abhishek & Gulesci, Selim, 2016. "The Price of Gold: Dowry and Death in India," IZA Discussion Papers 9679, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. Sylvain Dessy & Francesca Marchetta & Roland Pongou & Luca Tiberti, 2019. "Fertility response to climate shocks," Working Papers halshs-02053100, HAL.
    5. repec:red:ecodyn:v:20:y:2019:i:1:agenda is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    marriage market; income shocks; informal insurance; Africa; India; dowry; bride price;

    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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