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Selling daughters: age at marriage, income shocks and bride price tradition

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  • Alessandra Voena

    (University of Chicago)

  • Lucia Corno

    (Queen Mary, University of London)

Abstract

Cultural and social norms may play a role in supporting economic development, but they can also reduce the wellbeing of some groups. In this paper, we explore how the practice of bride price -- a transfer made by the groom to the brides family at marriage -- increases the probability of adolescent and child marriages. We develop a simple dynamic model with incomplete markets in which households have a higher probability of marrying their daughter early when hit by an adverse income shocks. To estimate the causal effects of income shocks on early marriages, we exploit exogenous variation in rainfall shocks over a woman's life cycle. Using a 19-years panel dataset from Tanzania, we find that adverse shocks increase the probability of teenage marriages. This is particularly true in the sub-sample of respondents who report a bride price payment at marriage. Finally, numerical simulations of our theoretical model show that improving access to credit markets could substantially delay the age at marriage.

Suggested Citation

  • Alessandra Voena & Lucia Corno, 2015. "Selling daughters: age at marriage, income shocks and bride price tradition," 2015 Meeting Papers 1089, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed015:1089
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