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