Daughters, dowries, deliveries: the effect of marital payments on fertility choices in India

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Abstract

This paper investigates the effect of the differential pecuniary costs of sons and daughters on fertility decisions. The focus is on dowries in India, which increase the economic returns to sons and decrease the returns to daughters. The paper exploits an exogenous shift in the cost of girls relative to boys arising from a revision in anti-dowry law, which is shown to have decreased dowry transfers markedly. The reform is found to have attenuated the widely documented positive association between daughters and their parents’ fertility. The effect is particularly pronounced for more autonomous women and for individuals living in areas characterised by strong preferences for sons
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-104
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Development Economics
Volume125
Early online date26 Nov 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2017

Keywords

  • dowry
  • fertility
  • India
  • son preferences
  • pecuniary costs
  • dowries
  • gender biases
  • economic costs

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