Marriage Markets and the Rise of Dowry in India

74 Pages Posted: 29 May 2020 Last revised: 18 Aug 2021

See all articles by Gaurav Chiplunkar

Gaurav Chiplunkar

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Jeffrey Weaver

University of Southern California

Date Written: August 12, 2021

Abstract

Dowry payments are common in many marriage markets. This paper uses data on over 74,000 marriages in India over the last century to explain why the institution of dowry emerges and how it evolves over time. We find that the proportion of Indian marriages including dowry payments doubled between 1930 and 1975, and the average real value of payments tripled. We empirically test whether four prominent theories of dowry can explain this rise, and find support for only one: dowry emerges due to increased differentiation in groom quality as a result of modernization. We then show that the average real value of dowry payments declines after 1975 and that this can be rationalized by a search model of marriage markets.

Suggested Citation

Chiplunkar, Gaurav and Weaver, Jeffrey, Marriage Markets and the Rise of Dowry in India (August 12, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3590730 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3590730

Gaurav Chiplunkar

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

Jeffrey Weaver (Contact Author)

University of Southern California

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