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

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  • Lucia Corno
  • Nicole Hildebrandt
  • Alessandra Voena

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 economic 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 is 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," NBER Working Papers 23604, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23604
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Bhalotra, Sonia & Chakravarty, Abhishek & Gulesci, Selim, 2020. "The price of gold: Dowry and death in India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 143(C).
    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. 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.
    4. Alessandra Voena, 2019. "The Research Agenda: Alessandra Voena on Economics of the family in developed and developing countries," EconomicDynamics Newsletter, Review of Economic Dynamics, vol. 20(1), April.
    5. Sylvain Dessy & Francesca Marchetta & Roland Pongou & Luca Tiberti, 2019. "Fertility response to climate shocks," Working Papers halshs-02053100, HAL.
    6. Julien Labonne & Sahar Parsa & Pablo Querubín, 2019. "Political Dynasties, Term Limits and Female Political Empowerment: Evidence from the Philippines," NBER Working Papers 26431, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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