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On the Heterogeneity of Dowry Motives

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  • Raj Arunachalam
  • Trevon D. Logan

Abstract

Dowries have been modeled as pre-mortem bequests to daughters or as groom-prices paid to in-laws. These two classes of models yield mutually exclusive predictions, but empirical tests of these predictions have been mixed. We argue that the heterogeneity of findings can be explained by a heterogeneous world--some households use dowries as a bequest and others use dowries as a price. We estimate a model with heterogeneous dowry motives and use the predictions from the competing theories in an exogenous switching regression to place households in the price or bequest regime. Our empirical strategy generates multiple, independent checks on the validity of regime assignment. Using retrospective marriage data from rural Bangladesh, we find robust evidence of heterogeneity in dowry motives in the population; that bequest dowries have declined in prevalence and amount over time; and that bequest households are better off compared to price households on a variety of welfare measures.

Suggested Citation

  • Raj Arunachalam & Trevon D. Logan, 2006. "On the Heterogeneity of Dowry Motives," NBER Working Papers 12630, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12630
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    Cited by:

    1. Chowdhury, Shyamal & Mallick, Debdulal & Chowdhury, Prabal Roy, 2017. "Natural Shocks and Marriage Markets: Evolution of Mehr and Dowry in Muslim Marriages," IZA Discussion Papers 10675, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Bishai, David & Grossbard, Shoshana, 2007. "Far Above Rubies: The Association Between Bride Price and Extramarital Sexual Relations in Uganda," IZA Discussion Papers 2982, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Tomas Lichard & Jan Hanousek & Randall K. Filer, 2012. "Measuring the Shadow Economy: Endogenous Switching Regression with Unobserved Separation," Economics Working Paper Archive at Hunter College 438, Hunter College Department of Economics.
    4. Siwan Anderson, 2007. "The Economics of Dowry and Brideprice," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(4), pages 151-174, Fall.
    5. Anukriti, S & Dasgupta, Shatanjaya, 2017. "Marriage Markets in Developing Countries," IZA Discussion Papers 10556, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Trevon D. Logan & Raj Arunachalam, 2014. "Is There Dowry Inflation in South Asia?," Historical Methods: A Journal of Quantitative and Interdisciplinary History, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 47(2), pages 81-94, June.
    7. Self, Sharmistha & Grabowski, Richard, 2009. "Modernization, inter-caste marriage, and dowry: An analytical perspective," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 69-76, January.
    8. Menon, Seetha, 2014. "Unfinished lives: the effect of domestic violence on neonatal & infant mortality," ISER Working Paper Series 2014-27, Institute for Social and Economic Research.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C5 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling
    • D1 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure

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