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

  • Sudeshna Maitra

    ()

    (Department of Economics, York University)

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.

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Paper provided by York University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 2006_9.

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Length: 41 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:yca:wpaper:2006_9
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  1. 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.
  2. Vijayendra Rao, . "The Rising Price of Husbands: A Hedonic Analysis of Dowry Increases in Rural India," University of Chicago - Population Research Center 91-6, Chicago - Population Research Center.
  3. Anne Case & Cally Ardington, 2005. "The impact of parental death on school enrollment and achievement: Longitudinal evidence from South Africa," Working Papers 168, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Research Program in Development Studies..
  4. 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.
  5. Hoddinott, John & Haddad, Lawrence, 1995. "Does Female Income Share Influence Household Expenditures? Evidence from Cote d'Ivoire," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 57(1), pages 77-96, February.
  6. Esther Duflo, 2000. "Grandmothers and Granddaughters: Old Age Pension and Intra-household Allocation in South Africa," NBER Working Papers 8061, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Thomas, D., 1989. "Intra-Household Resource Allocation: An Inferential Approach," Papers 586, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
  8. 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.
  9. Robert Pollak, 1986. "A reformulation of the two-sex problem," Demography, Springer, vol. 23(2), pages 247-259, May.
  10. Pollak, R.A., 1990. "Two-Sex Demographic Models," Working Papers 90-07, University of Washington, Department of Economics.
  11. 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.
  12. Aloysius Siow & Xiaodong Zhu, 1998. "Differential Fecundity and Gender Biased Parental Investment," Working Papers siow-99-03, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  13. Sudeshna Maitra, 2006. "Can Population Growth Cause Dowry Inflation? Theory and the Indian Evidence," Working Papers 2006_10, York University, Department of Economics.
  14. 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.
  15. Michele Tertilt, 2005. "Polygyny, Fertility, and Savings," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(6), pages 1341-1370, December.
  16. Peter Mayer, 1999. "India's Falling Sex Ratios," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 25(2), pages 323-343.
  17. 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.
  18. Anderson, Siwan, 2007. "Why the marriage squeeze cannot cause dowry inflation," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 137(1), pages 140-152, November.
  19. 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.
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