JSAWS vol. 6, no. 1 (ISSN 1085-7478)

Enrica Garzilli garzilli at SHORE.NET
Thu Oct 12 22:50:53 UTC 2000

Dear Colleagues,

We are pleased to announce the publication of vol. 6, no. 1 of the
*Journal of South Asia Women Studies*. On October 1, 2000 the journal
has celebrated its 6th year of life. We celebrate its birthday by
publishing a paper on the same topic we started this publication: dowry
and bride burning in India. This paper intends to provide an economic
rationale for the dowry system in India.

The issue will be free for 3 days. You will be able to read the previous
JSAWS issues by becoming a member of the journal. Life membership until
Dec. 31, 2000: US$ 50.


Our Sixth Year

*Dowry and its Effect on Marital Choices in India*, by Sonia Dalmia

*Ashes of Immortality: Widow Burning in India*, by Catherine
*Light in the Crevice Never Seen*, by Haunani-Kay
                     ABSTRACT OF THE PAPER

The marriage market can be viewed as an implicit market in bride and
groom attributes. The resulting market equilibrium associates a price
with each match. Dowry is then the price of a good match in the marriage
market. The theory of equalizing or compensating differences originally
developed by Adam Smith in 1974 has only recently been assessed using
labor market data. The theory of equalizing differences is particularly
suitable for the analysis of marriage markets, once price differences
among grooms are recognized as equalizing differences for the
alternative bundles of characteristics they possess. Dowry is a "payment
for the establishment of socio-economic alliances valuable to the
bride's family," where the value of these alliances to the bride's
family is not balanced by a comparable value to the groom's family. In
other words, dowry compensates the groom's family for the creation of an
unequally valuable alliance. The potential spouse with the most to gain
from the married state pays a surplus to the spouse who gains less. The
surplus paid is dowry if the less eager spouse is male, and a bride
price if the less eager spouse is female. In the empirical investigation
of marriage markets, one issue of interest is determining how the price
of grooms varies as their characteristics vary. The other subject of
interest is estimating structural demand functions for attributes of the
grooms; but the absence of directly observable attribute prices poses a
problem for such estimation. In a seminal paper, Rosen in 1974 proposed
a "two-step" procedure whereby attribute prices are estimated first as
derivatives of a hedonic price function and these are then used to
predict the parameters of household demand functions for attributes. The
results of consistent parameter estimates support the hypothesized,
equalizing differences, role of marital arrangements. Measurable groom
characteristics on which compensating price differentials have been
shown to arise empirically include groom's age at marriage, education
and height. In regions more to the north, dowries were found to be
higher. Most importantly, contrary to popular belief, I find that
holding groom characteristics constant, real dowries have decreased over
time. In the period 1971-1994 real dowry payments decreased with the
grooms' age and level of education suggesting that social and economic
changes have increased the attractiveness of grooms as potential spouses
more than that of the brides in India. Finally, in estimating the
parameters of the demand functions for a set of groom attributes,
results show that the most important determinants of demand for various
groom attributes are price of the attribute, bride's traits, and the
socio-economic status of the bride household.
Happy reading!

Dr. Enrica Garzilli
Dept. of Philosophical and Linguistic Sciences
University of Perugia
Piazza Morlacchi, 11 -06123 Perugia, Italy
Editor-in-Chief, International Journal of Tantric Studies
Journ. of S. Asia Women Studies http://www.asiatica.org

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