Dowry and Female Education: A Theoretical Evaluation
Keywords:Dowry, Female Education, Gender Wage Disparity, Unemployment, Education Subsidy
Using a dynamic framework based on intertemporal optimisation, this paper explores the complexity of the intertwined relationship between dowry and female education. The incidence of dowry in a gendered society is not at all a mechanically biological entity but fundamentally socially nurtured. The effect of social heterogeneity, economic status of the bride and groom family, unemployment, and female-specific education subsidy has been analysed to explain the incidence of dowry. We find that specifically targeted subsidised education for the girl child and gender empowerment may aggravate the incidence of dowry. Interestingly, we found that even if dowry is negatively correlated with bride education initially, a rise in the groom’s relative status can result in higher dowry and higher bride education in the final equilibrium. The results of this study show that the equilibrium level of dowry and female education exhibits a non-monotonous relationship which hinges on the nature of the underlying socioeconomic characteristic. However, overhauling the existing social system is not an easy exercise given the stigma associated with dowry exchange, and thus dowry may persist.
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