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Pre-marital Confinement of Women: A Signaling and Matching Approach

  • Birendra Rai
  • Kunal Sengupta

Parents in several cultures `discipline' their daughters to inculcate the supposedly feminine virtues and improve their prospects in the marriage market. This process invariably involves imposing restrictions on their behavior, movement, and social relations. We formalize the idea that pre-marital confinement of women can be understood as an equilibrium outcome of a game of asymmetric information between parents of girls and prospective suitors. The paper presents a parsimonious framework involving signaling followed by matching in a marriage market where transfers are possible. The framework encompasses the different theories proposed by social scientists and permits a discussion of how socio-economic factors like rules of descent, production technology, and wealth inequality affect the likelihood of observing a norm of pre-marital confinement.

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Paper provided by Monash University, Department of Economics in its series Monash Economics Working Papers with number 32-12.

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Length: 34 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mos:moswps:2012-32
Contact details of provider: Postal: Department of Economics, Monash University, Victoria 3800, Australia
Phone: +61-3-9905-2493
Fax: +61-3-9905-5476
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  1. Alesina, Alberto F & Giuliano, Paola & Nunn, Nathan, 2011. "On the origins of gender roles: women and the plough," CEPR Discussion Papers 8418, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  8. Ed Hopkins, 2005. "Job Market Signalling of Relative Position, or Becker Married to Spence," ESE Discussion Papers 134, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
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  13. Cole, Harold L & Mailath, George J & Postlewaite, Andrew, 1992. "Social Norms, Savings Behavior, and Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(6), pages 1092-1125, December.
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