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Demography of brideprice and dowry: Causes and consequences of the Indian marriage squeeze

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The paper investigates whether past declines in mortality could have created a huge deficit of eligible men in the marriage market, and whether the ensuing competition for mates could be responsible for the coercive character the dowry system of marriage has assumed in India. New indices have been developed to measure the trends in bridegroom availability that aid in the inquiry into the demographic origins of marriage squeeze. It is contended that the marriage squeeze against women was particularly intense in India because mortality decline, in addition to age structural changes, drastically reduced the number of widowers in the population who once accounted for about one-fifth of the annual supply of bridegrooms. Our projections indicate that, as a result of recent declines in fertility, the marriage squeeze against females will ease substantially by the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century, and that marriages of men will begin to be delayed more than those of women.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 1999

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