Aug 2, 2013

Culture and Economics: Marriage Institutions and Siblings Competition

Wikimedia Commos. Author: Latrobebohs
Traditional institutions interact in interesting ways with social and economic change. This article studies how traditional marriage practices induce trade-offs among sisters, tradeoffs most intense at intermediate levels of female schooling. Across four large South Asian countries, parents rush a daughter’s marriage search if she has younger sisters and delay her marriage search if she has older sisters, at the expense of spousal quality. These effects are especially strong in settings where grooms are scarce, search frictions are large, and arranged marriage is common. Because girls leave school when they marry and depend on their husbands for economic support in adulthood, the effects have long-term consequences. In Nepal, where data on adult women are available, younger sisters cause earlier school-leaving, lower educational attainment and adult literacy, lower spousal educational attainment and spousal occupational status, and marginally lower adult household economic status. Sibling rivalry over leaving the nest has effects that last long after all siblings have left it.
From a paper by Tom S. Vogl.  

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