The Price of Gold: Dowry and Death in India

53 Pages Posted: 20 Feb 2018

See all articles by Sonia Bhalotra

Sonia Bhalotra

University of Essex

Abhishek Chakravarty

University of Manchester

Selim Gulesci

Bocconi University - Department of Economics

Date Written: February 2018

Abstract

We provide evidence that dowry costs motivate son-preferring behaviors in India. Since gold is an integral part of dowry, we study parental responses to shocks in the world gold price. Exploiting monthly variation in gold prices across 35 years, as well as an event study around a massive gold price hike in December 1979, we find that monthly changes in gold prices lead to an increase in girl relative to boy neonatal mortality and that the surviving girls are shorter. After the introduction of prenatal sex determination technology, we find that gold price shocks increase female foeticide.

Keywords: commodity price shocks, dowry, gold price, missing girls, neonatal mortality, son preference

JEL Classification: I14, J16, O12

Suggested Citation

Bhalotra, Sonia and Chakravarty, Abhishek and Gulesci, Selim, The Price of Gold: Dowry and Death in India (February 2018). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP12712. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3126205

Sonia Bhalotra (Contact Author)

University of Essex ( email )

Wivenhoe Park
Colchester, CO4 3SQ
United Kingdom

Abhishek Chakravarty

University of Manchester ( email )

Oxford Road
Manchester, M13 9PL
United Kingdom

Selim Gulesci

Bocconi University - Department of Economics ( email )

Via Gobbi 5
Milan, 20136
Italy

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