Skip to content

Research Paper IZA Discussion Papers 9679

The price of gold: dowry and death in India

Authors

Publication date

Jan 2016

Summary

Dowry is often adduced as an explanation of son preference in India, but there is little evidence that dowry motivates son-preferring behaviours. On the premise that gold is an integral part of dowry, we use variation in gold prices to investigate this. First, we exploit a sharp unexpected rise in the price of gold in 1980 and, using a difference-in-discontinuities design, find that the gold price hike is mirrored in an increase in girl relative to boy mortality in the neonatal and infant period. We also find that surviving girls are shorter. Second, using monthly time series data for 35 years, we again find that cyclical variation in gold prices is reflected in excess girl mortality and, since the introduction of prenatal sex determination technology, in the sex ratio at birth. This constitutes the first evidence that dowry costs lead parents to eliminate foetal and newborn girls, and on a scale much larger than "dowry deaths" amongst married women which have been the subject of public attention.

Subjects

Economics, Family Formation And Dissolution, Childbearing: Fertility, and Savings And Assets

Links

http://www.iza.org/en/webcontent/publications/papers/viewAbstract?dp_id=9679


Related publications

  1. The price of gold: dowry and death in India

    Sonia Bhalotra, Abhishek Chakravarty, and Selim Gulesci

    1. Economics
    2. Family Formation And Dissolution
    3. Childbearing: Fertility
    4. Savings And Assets

#523722


Research home

Research home

News

Latest findings, new research

Publications search

Search all research by subject and author

Podcasts

Researchers discuss their findings and what they mean for society

Projects

Background and context, methods and data, aims and outputs

Events

Conferences, seminars and workshops

Survey methodology

Specialist research, practice and study

Taking the long view

ISER's annual report

Themes

Key research themes and areas of interest