Oct 11th at 4pm in Dealy E-530. Please join us. In a new paper, Professor S Anukriti and her University of Connecticut coauthors Nishith Prakash and Sungoh Kwon use data from the Rural Economic and Demographic Survey to examine dowry payments for 39,544 marriages that occurred during 1960-2008 in rural India.
Illegal since 1961, “most Indian brides’ families pay a substantial amount of cash and gifts to grooms’ families at the time of marriage, often amounting to several years of household income.” Despite its prevalence, accurate data on dowry and even the definition of dowry and time trends have been hotly debated. Traditionally, dowry reflected stridhan, i.e., woman’s wealth, or a sort of premortem bequest as daughters typically did not inherit their fathers’ property. Over time, it has become a groom-price equating the supply and demand of brides and grooms in the marriage market.” Figures from their paper provided online here show that the groom prices have remained remarkably stable over time (Figure 1) but vary greatly by region and caste. Perhaps surprisingly, southern states Kerala and Tamil Nadu have (or had) higher than average groom prices (Figure 2). Dowry payments bridge religious groups in India, with Christians and Sikhs paying much higher groom prices than Hindus and Muslims (Figure 3). For additional graphics see Anukriti, 2016, Gender Matters: An Economist’s Perspective, Dowry in Rural India.