Do Marriage Markets Respond to a Natural Disaster? The Impact of Flooding of River Kosi in India

82 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2020 Last revised: 15 Oct 2021

See all articles by Madhulika Khanna

Madhulika Khanna

Georgetown University

Nishtha Kochhar

Georgetown University - Department of Economics

Date Written: July 6, 2020

Abstract

This paper studies the impact of flooding of river Kosi on the timing of marriage in Bihar, one of the poorest regions in the world. Using a difference-in-differences design, we show that Kosi floods reduced men’s age at marriage by almost a year and women’s age at marriage by over three months. Kosi floods also decreased secondary school completion rate of married men and women and labor force participation of married women. We interpret these results within a model of marriage markets, where in the absence of complete credit markets, local cultural practices, such as dowry, help smooth consumption in response to adverse income shocks. The impact of Kosi floods is more pronounced among Hindus (for whom dowry is the traditional marriage payment norm) and among the landless (who are more credit-constrained). Against the background of increased frequency of extreme floods in South Asia, this paper highlights a channel through which low mortality natural disasters can have long-lasting impacts.

Keywords: Flooding, Gender, Marriage Markets, Natural Disasters, India

JEL Classification: J12, O12, Q54

Suggested Citation

Khanna, Madhulika and Kochhar, Nishtha, Do Marriage Markets Respond to a Natural Disaster? The Impact of Flooding of River Kosi in India (July 6, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3644052 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3644052

Madhulika Khanna

Georgetown University ( email )

Washington, DC 20057
United States
2022909790 (Phone)
22209 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://https://econ.georgetown.edu/

Nishtha Kochhar (Contact Author)

Georgetown University - Department of Economics ( email )

Washington, DC 20057
United States

HOME PAGE: http://sites.google.com/view/nishthakochhar

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