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School Research Seminar - Selling daughters: teenage marriage, income shocks and bride price tradition

10 December 2014

12:00 - 1:00pmRoom 4.04/08, Bancroft Building, Miel End Campus, E1 4NS

Hosted by Dr Lucia Corno

Abstract
Traditional social norms may play a role in supporting economic development, but they can also reduce the wellbeing of some groups. In this paper, we explore how the practice of bride price -- a transfer made by the groom to the bride's family at marriage -- increases the probability of adolescent and child marriages. We develop a simple dynamic model with incomplete markets in which households who are hit by adverse income shocks have a higher probability of marrying their daughter earlier than in the absence of income uncertainty. To estimate the causal effects of income shocks on early marriages, we exploit exogenous variation in rainfall shocks over a woman's life cycle. Using a 19-years panel dataset from Tanzania, we find that adverse shocks increase the probability of teenage marriages. This is particularly true in the sub-sample of respondents who report a bride price payment at marriage. Finally, numerical simulations of our theoretical model show that improving access to credit markets could substantially delay the age at marriage.

Lunch will be in FB4.26 at the start of the seminar at 12 noon.

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