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Arranged marriage, education and dowry: A Contract-theoretic perspective

  • Soumyanetra Munshi


    (Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research)

This paper propounds a contract-theoretic model where dowry acts as a screening device to differentiate grooms of varying qualities. In 'arranged' marriage settings that are characterized by incomplete information in the sense that the true quality of the groom remains unobservable to the bride, and in the presence of observable traits like education that are easier for the better quality groom to achieve, education-dowry contracts can potentially serve as a screening instrument. Moreover increasing dowry levels can be explained through increased educational attainments brought about by modernization and government policies. The paper also discusses historical and narrative evidences in support of its main hypotheses.

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Paper provided by Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai, India in its series Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai Working Papers with number 2014-006.

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Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2014
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ind:igiwpp:2014-006
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  8. Cohn, Elchanan & Kiker, B. F. & De Oliveira, M. Mendes, 1987. "Further evidence on the screening hypothesis," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 289-294.
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  12. Junsen Zhang & William Chan, 1999. "Dowry and Wife's Welfare: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(4), pages 786-808, August.
  13. Katz, Eliakim & Ziderman, Adrian, 1980. "On education, screening and human capital," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 81-88.
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  18. Francis Bloch & Vijayendra Rao & Sonalde Desai, 2004. "Wedding Celebrations as Conspicuous Consumption: Signaling Social Status in Rural India," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(3).
  19. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "A Theory of Marriage: Part II," NBER Chapters, in: Marriage, Family, Human Capital, and Fertility, pages 11-26 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Dalmia, Sonia, 2004. "A hedonic analysis of marriage transactions in India: estimating determinants of dowries and demand for groom characteristics in marriage," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(3), pages 235-255, September.
  21. Dasgupta, Indraneel & Maitra, Pushkar & Mukherjee, Diganta, 2008. "‘Arranged’ Marriage, Co-Residence and Female Schooling: A Model with Evidence from India," IZA Discussion Papers 3336, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  23. Albrecht, James W., 1981. "A procedure for testing the signalling hypothesis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 123-132, February.
  24. Becker, Gary S, 1973. "A Theory of Marriage: Part I," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(4), pages 813-46, July-Aug..
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  26. Psacharopoulos, George, 1979. "On the weak versus the strong version of the screening hypothesis," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 181-185.
  27. Arrow, Kenneth J., 1973. "Higher education as a filter," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 193-216, July.
  28. Abdul Waheed, 2009. "Dowry among Indian Muslims," Indian Journal of Gender Studies, Centre for Women's Development Studies, vol. 16(1), pages 47-75, February.
  29. Grubb, W. Norton, 1993. "Further tests of screening on education and observed ability," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 125-136, June.
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