The Bargaining Power of Missing Women: Evidence from a Sanitation Campaign in India

53 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2012 Last revised: 11 May 2012

See all articles by Yaniv Stopnitzky

Yaniv Stopnitzky

University of San Francisco - Department of Economics

Date Written: March 15, 2012


Female bargaining power in rural Haryana, as in much of northern India, is constrained by widespread discrimination against women. In recent years, however, women successfully demand private sanitation facilities from potential husbands as a precondition for marriage. I study this manifestation of bargaining power by modeling latrine adoption as an investment that males can make to improve their desirability on the marriage market, and I show that increasing proportions of females with strong sanitation preferences drive male investment in toilets. Moreover, I demonstrate women’s ability to secure latrines increases when they are relatively scarce in a marriage market. I test these predictions empirically by studying a sanitation program in Haryana, India, known colloquially as "No Toilet, No Bride." Using a triple difference empirical strategy based on households with and without marriageable boys, in Haryana and comparison states, before and after program exposure, I provide evidence that male investment in sanitation increased by 15% due to the program. Further, the program effect is four times larger in marriage markets where women are scarce (26%) as compared to marriage markets where women are abundant (6%). These results suggest the relative scarcity of women in Haryana has, conditional on women surviving to marriageable age, improved the ability of the remaining women to secure valuable goods.

Keywords: intrahousehold bargaining, sanitation, marriage markets, sex ratio, India

JEL Classification: D1, J12, O12, O13

Suggested Citation

Stopnitzky, Yaniv, The Bargaining Power of Missing Women: Evidence from a Sanitation Campaign in India (March 15, 2012). Available at SSRN: or

Yaniv Stopnitzky (Contact Author)

University of San Francisco - Department of Economics ( email )

2130 Fulton Street
San Francisco, CA 94117-1080
United States

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