Demography and Development
Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM
- Chair: Erica Field, Duke University
Cousin Marriage is Not Choice
AbstractCousin marriage is common throughout the Muslim world where 20-60\% of marriages have been found to be consanguineous. A benign interpretation is that the practise offers women protection (e.g., against domestic violence) since their inlaws are family. I propose a more sinister possibility by noting that consanguineous marriage amounts to a form of marriage by exchange. A male marries by dipping into a common pool of eligible brides. A man's right to draw on this pool is established by his family's committing replenishing the pool. The exchange may not clear contemporaneously, suggesting the need for a commitment device. A kin-based club can be a compelling possibility. The legal right to commit brides can be found in the fact that Sharia law allows fathers to contract their underage daughter in a marriage she must accept. Unlike typical arrange marriage regimes, Sharia law also stipulates that the analogue to the bride price (mahr) belongs to the bride. This provision protects the woman from a monetized sale by her guardian (wali), but it does not protect against barter. Marriage by exchange allows the wali to benefit from the marriage of his ward -- the payment for a bride is a bride in return. Cousin marriage thus converts male guardianship into male appropriation of women's marriage market value. Muslim marriage, despite allowing for female consent in marriage, thus reverts to a system of arranged marriage via marriage by exchange. As a consequence, not only are women robbed of their marriage market value (become subject to honor culture), society as a whole may suffer from the attendant incentive structure: young men marry thanks to family elders. This reduces the power of the young relative to the old and ties the individual in a web of clan obligations.
Women's Empowerment, the Gender Gap in Desired Fertility, and Fertility Outcomes in Developing Countries
AbstractWe document evidence on women's and men's preferences for childbearing in developing countries. Across countries, men usually desire larger families than women do. Within countries, we find wide dispersion in spouses' desired fertility, with many couples whose ideal family size differs by five children or more. Based on the evidence, we argue that incorporating household bargaining in analyses of fertility choice in developing countries is an important challenge for research. We also argue that there is a connection between fertility choice and the role of women's rights in economic development. If women and men have different preferences for childbearing, the extent to which women are empowered should have a bearing on fertility choices. There is evidence at both the macro and micro levels that this is indeed the case.
Female Labor Supply and Economic Development in India
AbstractAlthough emerging economies have enjoyed robust growth in recent years, in many cases female labor force participation has remained low, or even fallen. India, where women often face highly restrictive gender norms regarding work and mobility, is a particularly stark negative outlier. In collaboration with the state government of Madhya Pradesh, we experimentally varied whether women’s wages from India’s public workfare program were deposited into female-owned bank accounts versus an account owned by the male household head. The treatment increased women’s work, both in the program and in the private sector, consistent with a model in which gender norms limit women’s labor market engagement. We then explore how greater female labor supply correlates with human capital investment in the household. Our results suggest that encouraging female labor force participation can change household consumption and investment, which has implications for log-run poverty.
New York University
- J1 - Demographic Economics