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Gender Bias in India: Parental Preferences or Marriage Costs?

  • Martin Browning
  • Ramesh Subramaniam

This paper presents an analysis of gender effects in intra-household allocation of resources among children over the life-cycle in India. We present a simple three-period model that considers two possible motives for differential allocation of resources: parental preferences (in favour of male children) or higher marriage costs of female children. If parents incur high marriage costs for female children, then in a life-cycle context the birth of a female child will have the same effect as a negative wealth-shock, leading to a reduction in current consumption to meet future expenditures. We show that the predictions under these two regimes depend on whether we look at total expenditures or expenditures on adult goods. Estimation results based on a unique panel of data from India show that wealth-effect dominates parental preferences in intra-household allocation of resources for the wealthy households in our sample. We find that the reverse holds for the unpropertied households. Our savings estimates match with the expenditures that the wealthy households incur for a daughter's marriage.

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Paper provided by Centre for Research into Industry, Enterprise, Finance and the Firm in its series CRIEFF Discussion Papers with number 9415.

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Date of creation: Oct 1994
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Handle: RePEc:san:crieff:9415
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  1. McElroy, Marjorie B & Horney, Mary Jean, 1981. "Nash-Bargained Household Decisions: Toward a Generalization of the Theory of Demand," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 22(2), pages 333-49, June.
  2. Haddad, Lawrence & Kanbur, Ravi, 1989. "How serious is the neglect of intrahousehold inequality ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 296, The World Bank.
  3. Deaton, Angus S, 1989. "Looking for Boy-Girl Discrimination in Household Expenditure Data," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 3(1), pages 1-15, January.
  4. Behrman, Jere R & Pollak, Robert A & Taubman, Paul, 1982. "Parental Preferences and Provision for Progeny," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(1), pages 52-73, February.
  5. Haddad, L. & Hoddinott, J., 1991. "Gender Aspects of Household Expenditures and Resource Allocation in the Cote d'Ivoire," Economics Series Working Papers 99112, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
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