26 Pages Posted: 3 Apr 2003
Date Written: January 2003
When married daughters leave their parental home and their married brothers do not, altruistic parents provide dowries for daughters and bequests for sons in order to mitigate a free riding problem between their married sons and daughters. The theory has predictions on the form of the dowry contract, the exclusion of daughters from bequests, and the decline of dowries in previously dowry giving societies. These predictions are consistent with historical evidence from ancient Near Eastern civilizations, ancient Greece, Roman Empire, thirteenth-century Byzantium, western Europe from 500 to 1500 CE, the Jews from antiquity to the Middle Ages, Arab Islam from 650 CE to modern times, China, Japan, medieval and Renaissance Tuscany, early-modern England, modern Brazil, North America, and contemporary India.
Keywords: dowry, brideprice, bequest, free riding, marriage, intergenerational transfers, Tuscany, comparative
JEL Classification: J1, NO, N3
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation