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Why Dowry Payments Declined With Modernisation in Europe but are Rising in India

Listed author(s):
  • Anderson, K.S.

    (Tilburg University, Center For Economic Research)

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    In contrast to most dowry oriented societies where payments have declined with modernisation, those in India have undergone significant inflation over the last five decades.This paper explains the difference between these two experiences by focusing on the role played by caste.The theoretical model contrasts caste and non-caste based societies: in the former, there exists an inherited component to status (caste) which is independent of wealth, while in the latter, wealth is the primary determinant of status.Modernisation is assumed to involve two components: increasing average wealth and increasing wealth dispersion within status (or caste) groups.The paper shows that, in caste-based societies, the increases in wealth dispersion which accompany modernisation necessarily lead to increases in dowry payments, whereas in non-caste case based societies, increased dispersion has no real effect on dowry payments and increasing average wealth causes the payments to decline.

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    Paper provided by Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research in its series Discussion Paper with number 2001-7.

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    Date of creation: 2001
    Handle: RePEc:tiu:tiucen:8d8b080e-ea12-49b0-bf44-7b1eb3c51776
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://center.uvt.nl

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    1. Rao, Vijayendra, 1993. "The Rising Price of Husbands: A Hedonic Analysis of Dowry Increases in Rural India," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(4), pages 666-677, August.
    2. Junsen Zhang & William Chan, 1999. "Dowry and Wife's Welfare: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(4), pages 786-808, August.
    3. Stuard, Susan Mosher, 1981. "Dowry Increase and Increments in Wealth in Medieval Ragusa (Dubrovnik)," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 41(04), pages 795-811, December.
    4. Ken Burdett & Melvyn G. Coles, 1997. "Marriage and Class," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(1), pages 141-168.
    5. Eeckhout, Jan, 2000. "On the uniqueness of stable marriage matchings," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 69(1), pages 1-8, October.
    6. Botticini, Maristella, 1999. "A Loveless Economy? Intergenerational Altruism and the Marriage Market in a Tuscan Town, 1415–1436," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 59(01), pages 104-121, March.
    7. Echevarria, Cristina & Merlo, Antonio, 1999. "Gender Differences in Education in a Dynamic Household Bargaining Model," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 40(2), pages 265-286, May.
    8. Dixon, Ruth B, 1982. "Mobilizing Women for Rural Employment in South Asia: Issues of Class, Caste, and Patronage," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(2), pages 373-390, January.
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