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Can Population Growth Cause Dowry Inflation? Theory and the Indian Evidence

Listed author(s):
  • Sudeshna Maitra


    (Department of Economics, York University)

The empirical evidence on the role of a demographic marriage squeeze in the Indian dowry inflation of the last century has been mixed. Moreover, Anderson (2005) argues in a theoretical setting, that a population growth-led marriage squeeze must cause dowry deflation if the spousal age gap is to narrow over time. In this paper, I show that the apparently contradictory findings of the economic literature are perfectly consistent with each other. I demonstrate, using Anderson’s theoretical framework, that a demographic squeeze may lead to higher dowries in the periods of the squeeze compared with periods of no squeeze. Furthermore, I show that data drawn from such a dowry path can replicate the results obtained in the empirical literature on the Indian dowry inflation. I conclude that a demographic marriage squeeze remains a plausible explanation for the Indian dowry inflation.

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Paper provided by York University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 2006_10.

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Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2006
Handle: RePEc:yca:wpaper:2006_10
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  1. Anderson, Siwan, 2007. "Why the marriage squeeze cannot cause dowry inflation," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 137(1), pages 140-152, November.
  2. Lena Edlund, 2000. "The Marriage Squeeze Interpretation of Dowry Inflation: A Comment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(6), pages 1327-1333, December.
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