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Population Growth and Rising Dowries: The Long-Run Mechanism of a Marriage Squeeze

Author

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  • Sudeshna Maitra

    () (Department of Economics, York University)

Abstract

India has experienced a much-documented dowry inflation since the 1950s, which has been attributed to a spurt in population growth post-World War II. Will recent declines in fertility lead to a reversal of this trend and a regime of bride price? My paper develops a dynamic general equilibrium model of marriage markets, sex-ratio choice and population growth that is used to characterize the long-run relationship between population dynamics and marriage payments in India. I show that in the absence of exogenous sex preferences for offspring, and with no asymmetries between men and women except in desired ages of marriage (of self and spouse), any long run equilibrium will be characterized by an excess supply of brides, dowry payments and a masculine sex ratio.The result holds for parameters consistent with marriage market indicators in India.

Suggested Citation

  • Sudeshna Maitra, 2006. "Population Growth and Rising Dowries: The Long-Run Mechanism of a Marriage Squeeze," Working Papers 2006_9, York University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:yca:wpaper:2006_9
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    File URL: http://dept.econ.yorku.ca/research/workingPapers/working_papers/2006/SMaitra_lrsqueeze_nov06.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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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. Esther Duflo, 2003. "Grandmothers and Granddaughters: Old-Age Pensions and Intrahousehold Allocation in South Africa," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 17(1), pages 1-25, June.
    3. Sudeshna Maitra, 2006. "Can Population Growth Cause Dowry Inflation? Theory and the Indian Evidence," Working Papers 2006_10, York University, Department of Economics.
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    5. Aloysius Siow & Xiaodong Zhu, 1998. "Differential Fecundity and Gender Biased Parental Investment," Working Papers siow-99-03, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
    6. Fred Arnold & Sunita Kishor & T. K. Roy, 2002. "Sex-Selective Abortions in India," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 28(4), pages 759-785.
    7. Anne Case & Cally Ardington, 2004. "The impact of parental death on school enrollment and achievement: Longitudinal evidence from South Africa," SALDRU/CSSR Working Papers 097, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.
    8. Pollak, Robert A, 1990. "Two-Sex Demographic Models," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(2), pages 399-420, April.
    9. Francis Bloch & Vijayendra Rao, 2002. "Terror as a Bargaining Instrument: A Case Study of Dowry Violence in Rural India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1029-1043, September.
    10. Bergstrom, T. & Lam, D., 1991. "The Two-Sex Problem and the Marriage Squeeze in an Equilibrium Model of Mariage Market," Papers 91-7, Michigan - Center for Research on Economic & Social Theory.
    11. repec:pri:cheawb:case_ardington_parentaldeath.pdf is not listed on IDEAS
    12. repec:pri:rpdevs:case_ardington_parentaldeath is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Peter Mayer, 1999. "India's Falling Sex Ratios," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 25(2), pages 323-343.
    14. Mark M. Pitt & Shahidur R. Khandker & Omar Haider Chowdhury & Daniel L. Millimet, 1998. "Credit Programs for the Poor and the Nutritional Status of Children in Rural Bangladesh," Working Papers 98-4, Brown University, Department of Economics, revised 16 Jan 1998.
    15. Michele Tertilt, 2005. "Polygyny, Fertility, and Savings," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(6), pages 1341-1370, December.
    16. Anderson, Siwan, 2007. "Why the marriage squeeze cannot cause dowry inflation," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 137(1), pages 140-152, November.
    17. Vijayendra Rao, 2000. "The Marriage Squeeze Interpretation of Dowry Inflation: Response," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(6), pages 1334-1336, December.
    18. Mark M. Pitt & Shahidur R. Khandker & Omar Haider Chowdhury & Daniel L. Millimet, 2003. "Credit Programs for the Poor And the Health Status of Children in Rural Bangladesh," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 44(1), pages 87-118, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Brishti Guha, 2012. "Divorce Laws, Sex Ratios and the Marriage Market," Working Papers 19-2012, Singapore Management University, School of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Dowry; Marriage squeeze; Population growth;

    JEL classification:

    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • D10 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - General

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