Do more educated grooms get higher dowry?
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Dowry payments in Indian marriages became more frequent over the course of the twentieth century but the median dowry payment and the premium on educated grooms has been declining since 1975, according to research by economists Gaurav Chiplunkar of Yale University and Jeffrey Weaver of the University of California, San Diego. Using data on 76,000 marriages between 1930 and 2000, the duo show that the share of marriages with any dowry payments rose from 35-40% in 1930 to almost 90% by 1975 while the median dowry doubled. The median dowry decreased after 1975 in real terms as well as a fraction of household income. The decline in top dowry payments (payments belonging to the top percentiles) has contributed to the post-1975 decline. Rising male education levels first led to a rise in dowry payments in the pre-1975 period as better-educated grooms with better earnings prospects commanded a premium. However, as the supply of more educated grooms increased over time, the premium that the brides’ families were willing to pay for ‘better-quality’ suitors declined, leading to a decline in top dowry payments, the authors argue.
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