Money and Marriage: A Fresh Look at Marriage Transaction in Rural India

Afra R. Chowdhury, Brown University

In many societies, the formation of marital union involves economic transaction between the two parties. In India, dowry, the net transaction from bride’s to groom’s family is commonly practiced. Using Rural Economic and Demographic Survey 1999, a nationally representative dataset of rural India, this paper investigates the two main components of dowry – groomprice (paid by bride’s to groom’s family), and brideprice (paid by groom’s family to the bride or her family). Due to the dependent nature of groomprice and brideprice, Zellner’s seemingly unrelated regression model is utilized to determine the characteristics of bride and groom that are important in assessing the amount paid by either family. Results suggest that educated brides pay higher groomprice and it increases with years of schooling. Unlike educated ones, for uneducated brides, bride’s age and groom’s quality determines groomprice. However, for grooms, both education and landholdings provide higher bargaining power and attract more dowry.

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Presented in Poster Session 1