IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/zur/iewwpx/348.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Harming to signal: child marriage vs. public donations in Malawi

Author

Listed:
  • Simon Haenni
  • Guilherme Lichand

Abstract

In Malawi, only 5% of parents state that the right age for a woman to marry is below 18, but 42% of girls get married before they reach that legal age. We document that social image concerns are likely an important mechanism behind that wedge: where the prevalence of child marriage is high, those who do not marry off their under-age daughters are perceived as less altruistic, reciprocal and trustworthy than those who do. We then randomly assign 412 villages to a public donation drive, through which participants could donate maize to be redistributed to the poorest in their village. The idea is that increasing the visibility of charitable behavior – which also contributes to social image – might provide a less costly but as visible alternative to child marriage for parents who are only willing to engage in it out of social image concerns. One year after the intervention, we find that girls’ marriages and teenage pregnancies decrease by roughly 30% in treated villages relative to the control group. Consistent with the social image mechanism, (1) charitable behavior increases the most in villages where child marriage was most prevalent at baseline, and (2) in those villages, parents who do not marry off their under-age daughters are no longer perceived as less pro-social than others. We rule out that child marriage is delayed merely because poor families have additional resources due to donations from the drive, and provide evidence that treatment effects increase with the visibility of the intervention. Our findings provide novel evidence on how far individuals might go to protect their social image, and inform new strategies to disrupt arguably inefficient norms when there is a wedge between private and social motives.

Suggested Citation

  • Simon Haenni & Guilherme Lichand, 2020. "Harming to signal: child marriage vs. public donations in Malawi," IEW - Working Papers 348, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich, revised Mar 2021.
  • Handle: RePEc:zur:iewwpx:348
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://www.econ.uzh.ch/apps/workingpapers/wp/econwp348.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Christopher Blattman & Horacio Larreguy & Benjamin Marx & Otis R Reid, 2019. "Eat Widely, Vote Wisely ? Lessons from a Campaign Against Vote Buying in Uganda," SciencePo Working papers Main hal-03873791, HAL.
    2. Alessandra Voena & Lucia Corno, 2015. "Selling daughters: age at marriage, income shocks and bride price tradition," 2015 Meeting Papers 1089, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    3. Acemoglu,Daron & Robinson,James A., 2009. "Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521671422, November.
    4. Armin Falk & Anke Becker & Thomas Dohmen & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde, 2023. "The Preference Survey Module: A Validated Instrument for Measuring Risk, Time, and Social Preferences," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 69(4), pages 1935-1950, April.
    5. Leonardo Bursztyn & Alessandra L. González & David Yanagizawa-Drott, 2018. "Misperceived Social Norms: Female Labor Force Participation in Saudi Arabia," NBER Working Papers 24736, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Edward L. Glaeser, 2014. "A World Of Cities: The Causes And Consequences Of Urbanization In Poorer Countries," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 12(5), pages 1154-1199, October.
    7. Glazer, Amihai & Konrad, Kai A, 1996. "A Signaling Explanation for Charity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 1019-1028, September.
    8. Erica Field & Attila Ambrus, 2008. "Early Marriage, Age of Menarche, and Female Schooling Attainment in Bangladesh," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(5), pages 881-930, October.
    9. Luigi Butera & Robert Metcalfe & William Morrison & Dmitry Taubinsky, 2022. "Measuring the Welfare Effects of Shame and Pride," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 112(1), pages 122-168, January.
    10. Jean Tirole, 1996. "A Theory of Collective Reputations (with applications to the persistence of corruption and to firm quality)," The Review of Economic Studies, Review of Economic Studies Ltd, vol. 63(1), pages 1-22.
    11. Esther Duflo & Pascaline Dupas & Michael Kremer, 2015. "Education, HIV, and Early Fertility: Experimental Evidence from Kenya," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(9), pages 2757-2797, September.
    12. Leonardo Bursztyn & Bruno Ferman & Stefano Fiorin & Martin Kanz & Gautam Rao, 2018. "Status Goods: Experimental Evidence from Platinum Credit Cards," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 133(3), pages 1561-1595.
    13. repec:hal:wpspec:info:hdl:2441/7j1t12vvla8c887v4q18ihljej is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Kaivan Munshi & Mark Rosenzweig, 2006. "Traditional Institutions Meet the Modern World: Caste, Gender, and Schooling Choice in a Globalizing Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(4), pages 1225-1252, September.
    15. repec:hal:spmain:info:hdl:2441/7j1t12vvla8c887v4q18ihljej is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Leonardo Bursztyn & Georgy Egorov & Robert Jensen, 2019. "Cool to be Smart or Smart to be Cool? Understanding Peer Pressure in Education," The Review of Economic Studies, Review of Economic Studies Ltd, vol. 86(4), pages 1487-1526.
    17. Paola Giuliano & Nathan Nunn, 2021. "Understanding Cultural Persistence and Change [Cultural Assimilation During the Age of Mass Migration]," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 88(4), pages 1541-1581.
    18. Fernández, Raquel & Parsa, Sahar & Viarengo, Martina, 2019. "Coming Out in America: AIDS, Politics, and Cultural Change," IZA Discussion Papers 12360, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    19. Filipe Campante & David Yanagizawa-Drott, 2015. "Editor's Choice Does Religion Affect Economic Growth and Happiness? Evidence from Ramadan," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 130(2), pages 615-658.
    20. Edoardo Teso, 2019. "The Long-Term Effect of Demographic Shocks on the Evolution of Gender Roles: Evidence from the transatlantic Slave Trade," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 17(2), pages 497-534.
    21. Ambrus, Attila & Field, Erica, 2008. "Early Marriage, Age of Menarche, and Female Schooling Attainment in Bangladesh," Scholarly Articles 3200264, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    22. Greif, Avner, 1993. "Contract Enforceability and Economic Institutions in Early Trade: the Maghribi Traders' Coalition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(3), pages 525-548, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Spiro, Daniel, 2020. "Multigenerational transmission of culture," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 188(C).
    2. Lorenzo Cerda Planas, 2015. "The Evolution of "Kantian Trait": Inferring from the Dictator Game," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-01163937, HAL.
    3. Francesca Lipari & Massimo Stella & Alberto Antonioni, 2019. "Investigating Peer and Sorting Effects within an Adaptive Multiplex Network Model," Games, MDPI, vol. 10(2), pages 1-12, March.
    4. Bervoets, Sebastian & Zenou, Yves, 2017. "Intergenerational correlation and social interactions in education," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 13-30.
    5. Matthias Doepke & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2017. "Parenting With Style: Altruism and Paternalism in Intergenerational Preference Transmission," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 85, pages 1331-1371, September.
    6. Jean-Baptiste Michau, 2013. "Unemployment Insurance And Cultural Transmission: Theory And Application To European Unemployment," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11(6), pages 1320-1347, December.
    7. Bezin, Emeline & Moizeau, Fabien, 2017. "Cultural dynamics, social mobility and urban segregation," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 99(C), pages 173-187.
    8. Florent Dubois, 2017. "The Sources of Segregation," Working Papers halshs-01524506, HAL.
    9. Boris Gershman, 2016. "Long-Run Development and the New Cultural Economics," Working Papers 2016-06, American University, Department of Economics.
    10. Zenou, Yves, 2013. "Spatial versus social mismatch," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 113-132.
    11. Lorenzo Cerda Planas, 2015. "The Evolution of a "Kantian Trait": Inferring from the Dictator Game," Documents de travail du Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne 15032, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1), Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne.
    12. Ennio Bilancini & Leonardo Boncinelli & Jiabin Wu, 2016. "The Interplay of Cultural Aversion and Assortativity for the Emergence of Cooperation," Center for Economic Research (RECent) 121, University of Modena and Reggio E., Dept. of Economics "Marco Biagi".
    13. Gradstein, Mark & Justman, Moshe, 2018. "Diversity and Growth," IZA Discussion Papers 11553, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    14. Lorenzo Cerda Planas, 2015. "The Evolution of "Kantian Trait": Inferring from the Dictator Game," Post-Print halshs-01163937, HAL.
    15. Sönke Ehret & Sara M. Constantino & Elke U. Weber & Charles Efferson & Sonja Vogt, 2022. "Group identities can undermine social tipping after intervention," Nature Human Behaviour, Nature, vol. 6(12), pages 1669-1679, December.
    16. Bethencourt, Carlos & Kunze, Lars, 2014. "On the intergenerational nature of criminal behavior," MPRA Paper 58344, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    17. Carvalho, Jean-Paul & Koyama, Mark, 2013. "Resisting Education," MPRA Paper 48048, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    18. Pettifor, Hazel & Wilson, Charlie, 2020. "Low carbon innovations for mobility, food, homes and energy: A synthesis of consumer attributes," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 130(C).
    19. Fabrizio Adriani & Silvia Sonderegger, 2018. "Signaling about Norms: Socialization under Strategic Uncertainty," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 120(3), pages 685-716, July.
    20. Florent Dubois & Christophe Muller, 2017. "Decomposing Well-being Measures in South Africa: The Contribution of Residential Segregation to Income Distribution," AMSE Working Papers 1719, Aix-Marseille School of Economics, France.
    21. Adriani, Fabrizio & Matheson, Jesse A. & Sonderegger, Silvia, 2018. "Teaching by example and induced beliefs in a model of cultural transmission," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 145(C), pages 511-529.
    22. Forquesato, Pedro, 2016. "Social norms of work ethic and incentives in organizations," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 128(C), pages 231-250.
    23. Ennio Bilancini & Leonardo Boncinelli & Jiabin Wuz, 2016. "The Interplay of Cultural Aversion and Assortativity for the Emergence of Cooperation," Department of Economics 0084, University of Modena and Reggio E., Faculty of Economics "Marco Biagi".
    24. Zenou, Yves & Del Bello, Carlo & Panebianco, Fabrizio & Verdier, Thierry, 2016. "Cultural Transmission and Socialization Spillovers in Education," CEPR Discussion Papers 11419, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    25. Bilancini, Ennio & Boncinelli, Leonardo & Wu, Jiabin, 2018. "The interplay of cultural intolerance and action-assortativity for the emergence of cooperation and homophily," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 1-18.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Adams-Prassl, Abigail & Andrew, Alison, 2019. "Preferences and Beliefs in the Marriage Market for Young Brides," CEPR Discussion Papers 13567, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Abi Adams & Alison Andrew, 2019. "Preferences and beliefs in the marriage market for young brides," IFS Working Papers W19/05, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    3. Lucia Corno & Nicole Hildebrandt & Alessandra Voena, 2020. "Age of Marriage, Weather Shocks, and the Direction of Marriage Payments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 88(3), pages 879-915, May.
    4. Francesca Marchetta & David E. Sahn, 2016. "The Role of Education and Family Background in Marriage, Childbearing, and Labor Market Participation in Senegal," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 64(2), pages 369-403.
    5. Miron Tequame & Nyasha Tirivayi, 2015. "Higher education and fertility: Evidence from a natural experiment in Ethiopia," CINCH Working Paper Series 1509, Universitaet Duisburg-Essen, Competent in Competition and Health, revised Aug 2015.
    6. Lucia Corno & Nicole Hildebrandt & Alessandra Voena, 2016. "Weather Shocks, Age of Marriage and the Direction of Marriage Payments," DISCE - Working Papers del Dipartimento di Economia e Finanza def040, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Dipartimenti e Istituti di Scienze Economiche (DISCE).
    7. Sylvain Dessy & Setou Diarra & Roland Pongou, 2017. "Underage Brides and Grooms’ Education," Working Papers 1704E, University of Ottawa, Department of Economics.
    8. Heath, Rachel & Mushfiq Mobarak, A., 2015. "Manufacturing growth and the lives of Bangladeshi women," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 115(C), pages 1-15.
    9. Dessy, Sylvain & Diarra, Setou & Pongou, Roland, 2017. "Underage Brides and Grooms' Education," MPRA Paper 77326, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Mozhgan Asna-ashary & Mohammad Reza Farzanegan & Mehdi Feizi & Hassan F. Gholipour, 2020. "Socio-Economic Determinants of Child Marriage: Evidence from the Iranian Provinces," CESifo Working Paper Series 8073, CESifo.
    11. Hélène Giacobino & Elise Huillery & Bastien Michel & Mathilde Sage, 2022. "Schoolgirls Not Brides: Secondary Education as a Shield Against Child Marriage," Working Papers DT/2022/01, DIAL (Développement, Institutions et Mondialisation).
    12. Kandpal, Eeshani & Baylis, Kathy, 2019. "The social lives of married women: Peer effects in female autonomy and investments in children," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 140(C), pages 26-43.
    13. Dessy,Sylvain Eloi & Gninafon,Horace Mahugnon Akim & Tiberti,Luca & Tiberti,Marco, 2021. "COVID-19 and Children’s School Resilience : Evidence from Nigeria," Policy Research Working Paper Series 9736, The World Bank.
    14. Tom Vogl, 2012. "Marriage Institutions and Sibling Competition: Evidence from South Asia," NBER Working Papers 18319, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Kudo, Yuya, 2012. "Marriage as women's old age insurance : evidence from migration and land inheritance practices in rural Tanzania," IDE Discussion Papers 368, Institute of Developing Economies, Japan External Trade Organization(JETRO).
    16. Naveen Sunder, 2019. "Marriage Age, Social Status, and Intergenerational Effects in Uganda," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 56(6), pages 2123-2146, December.
    17. Katy Bergstrom & Berk Özler, 2023. "Improving the Well-Being of Adolescent Girls in Developing Countries," The World Bank Research Observer, World Bank, vol. 38(2), pages 179-212.
    18. Villar, Paola, 2021. "Paternal mortality, early marriages, and marital trajectories in Senegal," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 142(C).
    19. Susan B. Schaffnit & David W. Lawson, 2021. "Married Too Young? The Behavioral Ecology of ‘Child Marriage’," Social Sciences, MDPI, vol. 10(5), pages 1-15, May.
    20. Brodeur, Abel & Haddad, Joanne, 2021. "Institutions, attitudes and LGBT: Evidence from the gold rush," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 187(C), pages 92-110.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Child marriage; social norms; social image;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • Z10 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - General

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:zur:iewwpx:348. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Severin Oswald (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.