IDS at Saint Mary’s has one of the longest-running development studies speakers series in the country. The Speakers Series provides a forum for students to discuss central development issues with invited guests from academia, NGOs, multilateral agencies, government, and the private sector. The series is generally held on Fridays throughout the academic year from 12-1:30 pm, with alternative dates as necessary.
Conspicuous Daughters: Bride’s Family’s Marriage Expenditures Reduce Son Preference in India
“The literature on son preference postulates a strong link between marriage expenditures, dowry practices, and son preference, leading to the elimination of female foetuses and important discriminatory practices against girls. This statement, however, has not, as far as I know, been tested empirically using a representative sample of the Indian population. Using data from the India Human Development Survey (IHDS) conducted in 2005, this paper shows that marriage expenditures by the bride’s family and dowry payments reduce stated son preference, ceteris paribus, supporting the idea that the bride’s family’s marriage expenditures and dowries are Veblen goods. The results, therefore, support the sankritisation theory, as expensive marriage practices are used to enhance social status. This result is robust to a series of robustness check, including the use of revealed son preference. The main drivers behind son preference appear to be exogamy and the need for old age support. Other important factors are religious beliefs and access to modern information (education and media). Finally, this article also shows that lavish marriage expenditures, for both groom’s and bride’s family, reduce fertility.”
Dr. Marie-Claire Robitaille
Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, Saint Mary’s University
Dr. Marie-Claire Robitaille joined Saint Mary’s University in 2018 as an assistant professor. Before coming to Saint Mary’s, she worked at the Chinese campus of the University of Nottingham from 2012 to 2018. She graduated in 2011 from the University of Otago (New Zealand). Her research interests are in Development Economics, with a particular interest in gender issues, health, and education. She is also working on international trade. She has published until now in the Journal of Development Studies, World Development, and World Economy, among others. Her current research looks at son preference among immigrants in Canada, son preference in Turkey, dowry and son preference in India and the impact of maritime piracy on international trade.