'What's the worth of a promise? Evaluating the longer-term indirect effects of a programme to reduce early marriage in India'

35 Pages Posted: 16 Sep 2021

See all articles by Upasak Das

Upasak Das

University of Manchester

Shreya Biswas

BITS Pilani, Hyderabad Campus

Date Written: September 14, 2021


One important dimension of Conditional Cash Transfer Programs apart from conditionality is the provision of continuous frequency of payouts. On the contrary, the Apni Beti Apna Dhan program, implemented in the state of Haryana in India from 1994 to 1998 offers a “promised” amount to female beneficiaries redeemable only after attaining 18 years of age if she remains unmarried. This paper examines the long-term indirect effects of this programme on their human capital outcomes. Using multiple large scale datasets in a triple difference framework and exploiting the exogenous variation in the timing of implementation, we found significant improvements in educational attainment but no discernible effect on measures related to labour participation, time allocation, empowerment or intergenerational health indicators. While underage marriage has reduced, the likelihood of marriage after receiving the transfers has increased. We provide suggestive evidence of the CCT money and the associated educational gains being used by brides’ parents to ensure grooms of higher social status. The paper recommends a set of complementary potential policy instruments that include altering gender norms through behavioural interventions skill development and incentives to encourage female work participation.

Keywords: Education, labour participation, early marriage, conditional cash transfer, dowry, gender norms

JEL Classification: I38, J12, J16, J22

Suggested Citation

Das, Upasak and Biswas, Shreya, 'What's the worth of a promise? Evaluating the longer-term indirect effects of a programme to reduce early marriage in India' (September 14, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3923582 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3923582

Upasak Das

University of Manchester ( email )

United Kingdom

Shreya Biswas (Contact Author)

BITS Pilani, Hyderabad Campus ( email )

Block C234, BITS-Pilani, Hyderabad Campus
Jawahar Nagar, Shameerpet Mandal
Hyderabad, Telangana 500078

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