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American Economic Review: Vol. 100 No. 4 (September 2010)

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Watta Satta: Bride Exchange and Women's Welfare in Rural Pakistan

Article Citation

Jacoby, Hanan G., and Ghazala Mansuri. 2010. "Watta Satta: Bride Exchange and Women's Welfare in Rural Pakistan." American Economic Review, 100(4): 1804-25.

DOI: 10.1257/aer.100.4.1804

Abstract

Can marriage institutions limit marital inefficiency? We study the pervasive custom of watta satta in rural Pakistan, a bride exchange between families coupled with a mutual threat of retaliation. Watta satta can be seen as a mechanism for coordinating the actions of two sets of parents, each wishing to restrain their son-in-law. We find that marital discord, as measured by estrangement, domestic abuse, and wife's mental health, is indeed significantly lower in watta satta versus "conventional" marriage, but only after accounting for selection bias. These benefits cannot be explained by endogamy, a marriage pattern associated with watta satta. (JEL J12, J16, O15, O18, Z13)

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Authors

Jacoby, Hanan G. (World Bank)
Mansuri, Ghazala (World Bank)

JEL Classifications

J12: Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure; Domestic Abuse
J16: Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
O15: Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
O18: Economic Development: Regional, Urban, and Rural Analyses; Transportation
Z13: Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Social and Economic Stratification


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