Sudeshna Maitra
Population Growth and Rising Dowries: The Long-Run Mechanism of a Marriage Squeeze

Abstract:India has experienced a much-documented dowry inflation since the 1950s, which has been attributed to a spurt in population growth post-World War II. Will recent declines in fertility lead to a reversal of this trend and a regime of bride price? My paper develops a dynamic general equilibrium model of marriage markets, sex-ratio choice and population growth that is used to characterize the long-run relationship between population dynamics and marriage payments in India. I show that in the absence of exogenous sex preferences for offspring, and with no asymmetries between men and women except in desired ages of marriage (of self and spouse), any long run equilibrium will be characterized by an excess supply of brides, dowry payments and a masculine sex ratio. The result holds for parameters consistent with marriage market indicators in India.

JEL: J11 J12 J16 D10.
Keywords:dowry, marriage squeeze, population growth.



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