The Economics of Consanguineous Marriages

34 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016

See all articles by Quy-Toan Do

Quy-Toan Do

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG)

Sriya Iyer

University of Cambridge

Shareen Joshi

University of Chicago

Date Written: December 2006

Abstract

The institution of consanguineous marriage - a marriage contracted between close biological relatives - has been a basic building block of many societies in different parts of the world. This paper argues that the practice of consanguinity is closely related to the practice of dowry, and that both arise in response to an agency problem between the families of a bride and a groom. When marriage contracts are incomplete, dowries transfer control rights to the party with the highest incentives to invest in a marriage. When these transactions are costly however, consanguinity can be a more appropriate response since it directly reduces the agency cost. The paper's model predicts that dowry transfers are less likely to be observed in consanguineous unions. It also emphasizes the effect of credit constraints on the relative prevalence of dowry payment and consanguinity. An empirical analysis using data from Bangladesh delivers robust results consistent with the predictions of the model.

Keywords: Anthropology, Population Policies, Education and Society, Population & Development, Gender and Law

Suggested Citation

Do, Quy Toan and Iyer, Sriya and Joshi, Shareen, The Economics of Consanguineous Marriages (December 2006). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 4085. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=950455

Quy Toan Do (Contact Author)

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG) ( email )

1818 H. Street, N.W.
MSN3-311
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Sriya Iyer

University of Cambridge ( email )

Austin Robinson Building
Sidgwick Avenue
Cambridge, CB3 9DD
United Kingdom

Shareen Joshi

University of Chicago ( email )

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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