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May 10, 2010 Riah Forbes Economics Stanford University Stanford, CA 94305 firstname.lastname@example.org under the direction of Prof. Anjini Kochar ABSTRACT This paper will explore how the declining sex ratio in Haryana, a state in north India, has affected the local marriage market. The ratio of the number of women to men has been falling over time, due to the strong preference for sons and prevalence of sex-selective abortion in this region. Studies show that lower sex ratios lead to higher female bargaining power, but I empirically show that there has been no change in female bargaining power in the region surveyed. I argue that the relative shortage of women causes a squeeze in the marriage market, which has two potential consequences: (i) an increasing age difference between spouses and (ii) an increased geographical spread of the marriage market. I test these hypotheses using primary data collected from households in three districts in Haryana. I conclude that the declining sex ratio has no effect on spousal age gap, but does increase the distance traveled by wives for marriage. This could explain the unresponsiveness of female bargaining power to the sex ratio change, since the marriage market is simply expanding geographically to compensate for the shortage of women rather than by directly altering intra-household dynamics.
Keywords: marriage market, Haryana, sex ratio, bargaining power, India, assortative matching
Acknowledgements: I would like to thank my advisor Anjini Kochar for her invaluable advice, guidance and patience over this two-year project, the Rai Foundation for assisting us with logistics in the villages and Geoffrey Rothwell for his advice about the Economics honors program. I would also like to thank Teresa Molina, Lorra de la Paz, Rebecca Schindel and Sze Suen for all their help, and Salone Kapur and Shruti Tibrewala for keeping me sane over the last few months. Finally, I would like to dedicate this study to the men, women and children I met in rural Haryana, whose strength, perseverance and good humor continue to humble and inspire me.
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Table of Contents
I. Introduction………………………………………………………………………3 II. Literature Review………………………………………………………………..5 III. Theoretical Framework……………………………………………………..…13 IV. Study Setting & Data Collection……………………………………………...16 V. Empirical Strategy……………………………………………………………..23 VI. Results…………………………………………………………………...........27 VII. Conclusion & Discussion…………………………………………………….32 VIII. Appendix…………………………………………………………………….34 IX. References & Data Sources…………………………………………………...36
3 Riah Forbes Honors Thesis May 10, 2010
India has dramatically improved against multiple social and economic indicators over the last few decades, but it has not been as successful at achieving gender equality. One significant measure of this inequality is the country’s sex ratio, defined as the number of girls per 1000 boys under the age of 7. This number is typically skewed slightly in favor of boys, at about 950 girls to 1000 boys, to compensate for the fact that women have a marginally higher life expectancy (Sen 2003). However, the sex ratio is far more skewed in India, at 927 girls per 1000 boys in 2001 (Census of India). While this does not seem substantially different from the normal rate, Sen points out that this statistic provides two reasons for concern. Firstly, the ratio has been worsening over time – it was 945 women to 1000 men in 1991 – and may continue to become increasingly skewed. Secondly, there is a huge variation in sex ratios across states in India; states in the South have much more balanced sex ratios than their counterparts in the North, some of which have sex ratios as low as 793 girls per 1000 boys. (see map in Appendix) It is commonly believed that once the sex ratio gets particularly imbalanced, the bargaining power of the scarcer sex rises. One reason for this is that a skewed sex ratio changes the dynamics of the marriage market by altering women’s outside options (Lafortune 2008). Also, when there are fewer women, women are more likely to marry into a higher socioeconomic class than their own (Abramitzky 2008). An increase in female bargaining power typically manifests itself through certain post-marital outcomes like better health and education for children, particularly daughters.
4 Riah Forbes Honors Thesis May 10, 2010 In this paper, I explore how the declining sex ratio has affected the marriage market in Haryana, a state with one of the lowest sex ratios in India. I present empirical evidence that shows no significant change in outcomes like children’s education that should result from higher female bargaining power, indicating the bargaining power of women has not changed even though sex ratios have declined. I hypothesize that the shortage of women relative to men lead to two potential consequences in the marriage market: (i) a rising age gap between spouses as men compensate for the lack of women in their own age cohort by marrying younger women, and (ii) more migration of women for marriage to regions with lower sex ratios to compensate for the shortage of women in that geographical area. I then use the results obtained to provide a potential explanation for the unchanged post-marital bargaining power of women. I address this question empirically through regressions of age difference between the husband and wife and distance traveled by the wife for marriage on the district-level sex ratio for four age cohorts of women, since each cohort has faced a different sex ratio in the district at the time of marriage. Unlike other studies that look at either age difference or migration data, I look at both effects using a household sample of data collected from three districts in Haryana. I control for both district fixed effects and cohort fixed effects to minimize variation in results caused by place or time. Additionally, I investigate how the husband’s income level changes the spousal age difference and distance traveled by the wife for marriage. My results show that the declining sex ratio has no effect on the age gap between spouses, but has increased the level of female migration for marriage. This result could explain the lack of responsiveness of female bargaining power to the changing sex ratio. A rising age gap between spouses would reduce the relative bargaining power of women, but if the marriage
5 Riah Forbes Honors Thesis May 10, 2010 market squeeze has simply resulted in men finding brides from further away rather than by marrying younger women, the relative bargaining power of women could be the same or even less than it was before. In section II, I will review the major literature on marriage markets, declining sex ratios in India, and the relationship between marriage markets and sex ratios. Section III offers the theoretical framework on which this study is based. Section IV offers the data collection methodology, a description of the setting in Haryana and descriptive statistics. The empirical strategy is discussed in Section V and the results are outlined in Section VI. Section VII provides a discussion of the results, acknowledges the limitations of this study and presents opportunities for further research.
II. Literature Review
Theories spanning biology, economics and sociology have attempted to explain why societies experience a sex ratio different from the expected 950:1000 female-to-male ratio. Sieff (1990) explains sex ratio variations using evolutionary theory, stating that parents allocate resources differently between their sons and daughters in an attempt to maximize the net effect on their own fitness. Fisher (1958) proposes that parents aim to produce more boys or to invest more in each boy to equalize their investment across their offspring, because boys have a higher mortality rate than girls. Trivers and Willard’s hypothesis (1973) state that parents bias their investment of resources depending on their offspring’s expected reproductive success, which typically leads parents in good condition to favor boys and parents in a worse condition to favor girls.
6 Riah Forbes Honors Thesis May 10, 2010 In parts of North India, the skewed sex ratio is a result of the strong bias against daughters, revealed through both prenatal and postnatal biases. Das Gupta (1987) shows that higher-income families have both lower fertility levels and access to prenatal sex determination technology like ultrasounds and amniocentesis. As income has risen, parents want fewer children and now have both the incentive and the means to effectively control the sex of their child by aborting daughters. Even if a girl is born, a strong postnatal bias still exists. Das Gupta shows that medical care expenditure is more than twice as much for boys as it is for girls in the 0-1 year age group. Infant caloric intake is about the same for boys and girls, but boys are given more high-cost foods like milk and fats (Das Gupta 1987). This raises the likelihood of early female mortality and skews the sex ratio towards boys. One explanation often given for this strong bias against daughters is that women in north India have low bargaining power within their marriage, restricting their ability to choose to educate, vaccinate and nourish their daughters as well as their sons. Thomas (1990) states that “relative to fathers (and other household members), mothers appear to be more effective at using the income over which they have control to improve the health of their families” (650). Mothers devote their resources to improving the health and education of both sons and daughters, but Thomas (1990) finds that they prefer to dedicate their resources to improving their daughters’ heights and weights while fathers tend to dedicate more resources to their sons. This implies that if women have less say than men do in household decisions, health and education outcomes of girls are likely to suffer, perpetuating the cycle of female discrimination. The gender bias could also be a consequence of economic factors. Sieff (1990) shows that men can typically contribute more to family resources. This is particularly true in rural India,
7 Riah Forbes Honors Thesis May 10, 2010 where women have limited work opportunities and are expected to primarily take care of household chores. This simultaneously reduces the bargaining power of wives – as they contribute less to the household resources, they have less bargaining power – and reduces the return on investment in a daughter. Additionally, families typically pay a dowry when their daughters marry, which increases the financial burden of having a daughter. Das Gupta (1987) claims that it is cultural rather than economic factors that lead to the structural marginalization of women in north Indian society. She demonstrates that even when there is a high rate of female labor force participation, women remain of low value to their parents. Dyson and Moore (1983) and Foster and Rosenzweig (2001) corroborate the idea of cultural factors being the dominant cause of anti-female bias. They show that the custom of patrilocal exogamy (i.e. girls moving from their natal homes to their husbands’ homes after marriage) results in a lower return on investment for girls’ human capital to her parents. Hence, they have less incentive to invest in their daughters than in their sons, who typically live in the same house as their parents after marriage. A lower investment in women relative to men further reduces the likelihood that a woman will have the ability to make decisions about her daughters’ health and education after marriage. Since the literature demonstrates the links between higher intra-household female bargaining power and better education and health outcomes for girls, it is crucial to note that the bargaining power of women is significantly dependent on the marriage market. Specifically, the sex ratio within the marriage market determines marriage market outcomes that, in turn, affect the bargaining power of women. I will begin by defining the marriage market and then discuss the relationship between sex ratios, marriage markets and the bargaining power of women.
8 Riah Forbes Honors Thesis May 10, 2010 Becker’s seminal paper in 1974 was the first to consider the social institution of marriage from an economic perspective. He argued that marriage could be analyzed using the basic economic principles of choice theory and utility maximization. Since marriage is usually a voluntary decision, individuals making decisions about marriage are trying to raise their utility above what it would have been if they remained single, and “marriage occurs if, and only if, both of them are made better off - that is, increase their utility”. (816) The second aspect of this theory is that multiple men and women seek spouses simultaneously, so they compete with each other for the most desirable mates and create an implicit ‘marriage market’. Just as in more traditional economic markets, supply and demand establish constraints on a person’s ability to select a spouse and each person tries to find the best possible spouse given these constraints. Becker defines the standard marriage market clearing condition, where the demand for brides is equal to the supply of brides, as
Here, M and W are the number of men and women, and sm and sw the fraction of men and women who never marry. To allow for polygamy, n is the number of wives per man. Neelakantan and Tertilt (2008) modify this model to allow for dynamic changes in the market. They include the age at which all men in a given cohort are assumed to marry k, the spousal age gap g, the population growth rate and mortality rates π, and define the market clearing condition as:
9 Riah Forbes Honors Thesis May 10, 2010 For the purpose of this study though, I will assume n=1, since there were no instances of polygamy in the sample I surveyed. For further simplification, I will assume that the population growth rate was constant, as were the male and female mortality rates. The spousal age gap and marriage ages will be discussed in detail later. Becker then considers how individuals within this market select each other. He assumes that there are certain desirable characteristics in a spouse that individuals have a preference for, like attractiveness, intelligence, wealth, education level, and so on. He argues that there is positive assortative mating across these characteristics (i.e. individuals with like characteristics mate, so more educated men seek more educated women, for instance) provided that these “like characteristics” maximizes total household commodity output. As both Becker’s model and Neelakantan and Tertilt’s model show, the marriage market depends heavily on the number of men and women, making the sex ratio a key determinant of the market, which in turn affects the intra-household bargaining power of women. One mechanism by which this occurs is through the age gap between spouses. Research by Caldwell, Reddy and Caldwell (1983) shows that the larger age gaps lead to an increase in the marginalization of women, i.e. a woman has less bargaining power if her husband is many years older than her. Also, studies have indicated that a rising age gap can lead to an increased bias against having daughters; Rao (1993) claims that there are links between rising spousal age gap and a rise in dowries, making it more costly to have a daughter. Since there seem to be farreaching social consequences of the age gap between spouses, I investigate this effect further in the empirical analysis.
10 Riah Forbes Honors Thesis May 10, 2010 Edlund (1999) states that a lower sex ratio increases average age gap between spouses. Her model indicates that the surplus of men in each age cohort lead to a rising number of unmarried old men remaining in the population and one of them marrying drives up the average age gap. Edlund claims that there is a social stigma attached to having an unmarried daughter above a certain age, which results in the age of marriage for women remaining relatively constant. This, coupled with the fact that men are forced to marry later, results in an increase in the average age gap between spouses as the sex ratio decreases. Edlund also predicts a negative correlation between the age of a man’s marriage and his social status, as men with a higher social status are more likely to find a bride and marry at a younger age than men with a lower social status. Rao (1993) and Botticini (1999) propose an alternative effect of sex ratios on the marriage market – they show that the marriage market adjusts to a relative scarcity of men or women through dowries. Bergstrom (1994) and Becker (1974, 1981) claim that an imbalanced sex ratio leads to a higher incidence of polygamy due to the constraints on one-to-one matching. However, for this study, I will only consider monogamous marriages, as the sample I used has no instances of polygamy. Chiappori et al. (2001) emphasize that factors that affect spouses’ opportunities outside marriage change intra-household decisions, even when the marriage does not actually dissolve. They state that when there is a relative scarcity of women, “the distribution of gains from the marriage will be shifted in [the wife’s] favor” which increases her ability to make household decisions. (1) This implies that a lower sex ratio leads to higher female bargaining power. However, they assume that the “quality” of men and women marrying remains constant
11 Riah Forbes Honors Thesis May 10, 2010 (contradicted by Abramitzky’s study, discussed subsequently). Another assumption made is that the sex ratio is exogenous and does not adjust across regions, indicating that they do not consider the effect of migration. Both these assumptions will be relaxed in this study and I will show that they play a key role in determining the level of female bargaining power. Abramitzky et al. (2008) investigates how an exogenous sex ratio change affects Becker’s assortative matching model by examining the effect of the large decrease in France’s male population after World War I on the marriage market. They find that men married women of a higher social status in areas with larger increases in the sex ratio, i.e. areas with a relative scarcity of men. This implies that people prefer to ‘marry up’ but are unable to do so in societies with a more balanced sex ratio. The authors indicate that their results may imply a social ascension of women in countries like China and India, where the sex ratio is biased in the opposite direction and gives women the opportunity to marry up. This fits the framework presented by Burdett and Cole (1997) and Bloch and Ryder (2000), who express the concept of hypergamy, i.e. the woman marrying socially superior men, due to the relative abundance of men to choose from. In conjunction with Chiappori’s study, this implies that a lower sex ratio leads to a social ascension of women due to an increased ability to marry up and more intra-household resource allocation, leading to higher bargaining power. However, this paper presents empirical evidence showing no change in the bargaining power of women in the districts of Haryana surveyed, despite the low sex ratio, indicating that sex ratios are affecting the marriage market in ways that do not change bargaining power. A key reason for this is that Abramitzky et al. use the French département as a constant measure of the marriage market, whereas I investigate female
12 Riah Forbes Honors Thesis May 10, 2010 migration across districts as a direct consequence of the sex ratio decline. In fact, both Chiappori and Edlund make the assumption that the boundaries of the marriage market are fixed, i.e. it is defined by state or by district. Most literature in this field, in fact, assumes a constant geographical spread of the marriage market in order to predict effects on age gap or bargaining power. What seems to be lacking in the literature is a study of an alternative response to the marriage market squeeze – specifically, the migration of women from higher sex ratio areas to lower sex ratio areas for marriage. A few studies consider female migration for marriage, but they do so outside the context of a changing sex ratio. Fan and Huang (1998) focus on the socioeconomic impetus for migration and show that rural women from low-income backgrounds migrate over long distances for marriage to improve their social status. They argue that “marriage is a strategy by which peasant women in disadvantaged positions move to more desirable locations where they may achieve social and economic mobility. This argument challenges the conventional wisdom of a unidirectional relationship between marriage and migration (i.e. that women move to join their spouses, and migration is only a by-product and consequence of marriage).” (228) Rosenzweig and Stark (1989) show that “approximately 80 percent of lifetime migrants were women who gave marriage as the principal reason for their move”, indicating that it is valid to assume that characteristics of the marriage market determine female migration (906). They use evidence from rural India to show that families prefer their daughters to marry into locationally distant households as a form of insurance to mitigate income risk. While these studies focus on the socioeconomic impetus for women to migrate for marriage, they do not examine the sex ratio within the marriage market as an incentive to
13 Riah Forbes Honors Thesis May 10, 2010 migrate. In the next section, I will adopt Abramitzky et al.’s theoretical model to assess the effect of a declining sex ratio on the age gap between spouses and the distance traveled by the wife.
III. Theoretical Framework
The theoretical framework for this paper is based on the assortative matching model outlined by Abramitzky (2008). He begins by developing a model of how individuals choose their spouses in a market with a balanced sex ratio, i.e. the number of men and women in the population are equal. Each individual in the market has an index, a certain real number that indicates their level of attractiveness to potential partners. If a man and a woman marry, the woman’s gain from the marriage is equal to the man’s index and the man’s gain is equal to the woman’s index. So, individuals want to marry the highest-index individual possible. Apart from factors like income, education and physical attractiveness, I assume that individuals also have some preference over the age of their potential spouses, which factors into that individual’s index. Based on cultural norms in India, men prefer women who are younger than them to women who are older. I also assume that individuals try to minimize the age gap between his/her age and his/her spouse’s age. The choice of a future spouse is constrained by a couple of factors. When two individuals meet, they decide whether or not to propose, and a marriage only occurs if both individuals decide to propose. So, an individual’s decision to propose depends on three factors: (i) the partner’s index, (ii) the rate at which he/she is meeting other potential candidates, and (iii) the individual’s expectation about who will propose to him (or her). Another key factor of this model is that the search for a spouse is not costless. Singles in the market only meet other singles
14 Riah Forbes Honors Thesis May 10, 2010 occasionally, i.e. there is search friction. As Abramitzky states, “search costs are embodied in a discount factor that captures the individuals’ impatience to get married” (8). I modify this search cost by adding another variable to it: the geographical distance between individuals. It is likely that the cost increases as the distance increases, since transportation and communication become more expensive. In this market, classes emerge endogenously in equilibrium as singles partition themselves into classes based on their index levels. To explain this phenomenon, Abramitzky assumes that the attractiveness indices of men and women lie in the interval [0,1]. The man with the highest index faces an unconstrained search problem, as every woman proposes to him. He uses a threshold strategy and proposes to women whose indices are above a certain value w1. This means that women with indices in (w1, 1] range face an unconstrained search problem as well. By symmetry, they only propose to men whose indices fall in the range (m1, 1]. Let us assume that men in this range fall in class 1 and women in the (w1, 1] range fall in class 1 as well. In equilibrium, men of class 1 only marry women of class 1. The next step is to consider the highest remaining men and women on the market – individuals with indices m1 and w1. They now face an unconstrained search problem and, using the same logic as before, we assume that there is a range (m2, m1] of men that the women will propose to and a range (w2, w1] of women that men will propose to. These individuals form class two, and only marry within this class. By applying this argument recursively, we obtain the result that there is assortative matching in equilibrium – men and women only marry individuals of the same class. It should be noted that men and women would prefer to marry singles of higher classes, but are unable to do so in this situation.
15 Riah Forbes Honors Thesis May 10, 2010 We now relax the assumption that there are an equal number of men and women in the marriage market and consider the effect of a sudden decline in the number of women. Assuming that the size of the male population remains constant, this places additional constraints on men, as it reduces the rate at which single men can meet single women. This has two consequences: (i) men become less selective and are willing to accept women of a lower index, and (ii) men are forced to incur a higher cost in searching for a bride. For the purpose of this study, I assume that a woman with a lower index is one who has a larger age difference from the man and so the first consequence implies that a given man is now willing to marry a much younger woman than when the sex ratio was balanced. Abramitzky assumes that the boundaries of the marriage market are fixed and therefore that the second consequence simply implies that men are more willing to marry lower-index women as they do not want to incur the higher cost of searching for a bride for a longer time. In this paper, I relax that assumption and consider the possibility of men incurring the cost of looking further afield rather than settling for lower-index women in their own district. This implies that the second possible consequence of the marriage market squeeze is that a man of a given class is not necessarily marrying a woman of a lower socioeconomic class than he would otherwise – he could simply be extending the geographical spread of the market in order to increase the likelihood of finding a desirable wife. Based on this theoretical framework, I test these two consequences empirically in subsequent sections.
16 Riah Forbes Honors Thesis May 10, 2010
IV. Study Setting & Data Collection
India has 28 states and 7 union territories, each of which is sub-divided into districts. Each district is divided into blocks, which are made of villages, towns and cities. The data used in this paper is based on household-level data collected from 19 villages across 3 districts (Faridabad, Jhajjar and Sonipat) in the state of Haryana in India in July 2008. Haryana was chosen as the target state since it has one of the lowest female-to-male ratios in the country (it is second only to Punjab) with 820 women to 1000 boys under the age of 7 in 2001. I was part of a team of five students from Stanford and five students from the Delhi Business School, who collected the data over a four-week period. In each village, we surveyed 10-15 households (except one village that only had 4 households), creating a final data set of 208 households. Although we covered three districts, we only managed to cover villages from one block within each district. We selected these villages randomly from a list of villages within each block obtained from the Block Development Office. Within each village, we randomly selected households from a list of residents provided by the local village government (panchayat). We stratified households on the basis of income, ensuring that we surveyed 2-3 households below the poverty line in every village. We also ensured that the sample was representative of the social variation within the village by including at least one household from every major caste. Apart from the household survey, we conducted a village-level survey with the panchayat members to collect information about demographics, participation of women’s groups, education and health facilities at the village level. Surveys were verbally conducted and translated from Hindi, with the whole team present for the village module and then breaking up in to smaller groups to conduct the household
17 Riah Forbes Honors Thesis May 10, 2010 surveys. The household surveys are the primary source of data used in this study. We attempted to collect demographic data, fertility and health information, income data, and information on relevant government policies implemented in the village. To do so, we divided the survey into 7 sections: 1. Household Roster This assigned an ID code to each household member, established their relationships and collected basic demographic data for each individual including age, education, marital status and caste. 2. Work This section surveyed all employed members of the household, establishing their type of work, permanence/seasonal changes in employment and whether they had been unable to work due to chronic illness in the past 5 years. 3. Wealth This section asked a series of questions to establish household wealth. It surveyed monthly earnings and expenditure in rupees, monthly savings, landholdings and various proxies for wealth – number of rooms in the house, whether or not the house had a TV, and whether its members had a savings account and/or life insurance. 4. Marital Background This section collected information about all ever-married members of the household and their spouses, even if the spouse was not a member of the household. Respondents were asked about their year of marriage, their parents’ income, their parents’ education, their siblings’ education and the distance they were from their parents’ residential village. The distance variable was
18 Riah Forbes Honors Thesis May 10, 2010 equal to 0 for all male respondents, as cultural norms dictate that men live with their families in their natal homes even after marriage. 5. Perceptions This section surveyed subjective perceptions of a daughters’ role in the family and female leaders in the village, if any. 6. Maternity History & Health This section surveyed all ever-married women in the household. They were asked about their desired number of children and any children who were dead or away from the household, to establish their maternity history. They were then asked about whether they had a prenatal checkup and/or vaccinated each of their children. 7. Government Schemes This section surveyed the prevalence and influence of policies implemented by the government targeting issues of female discrimination.
Descriptive Statistics Summary statistics of the sample surveyed are shown in Table 1. Individuals who were never married were dropped from the sample, as were couples for whom we could not obtain information about both the husband and the wife. The average age of the couples we surveyed is in the 30-40 year age group and most individuals got married around the age of 20. It should be noted that all ages of individuals listed are as reported when the survey was conducted in 2006. As the table shows, there is a wide spread of the age difference between spouses and the distance traveled by the bride from her maternal home – effects that are analyzed later in this paper.
19 Riah Forbes Honors Thesis May 10, 2010 The education variables indicate that most individuals sampled have some education, though this is not above high-school level on average. Women have between 0 and 19 years of education, with the average being 5.5 years. Men are more educated than women on average at about 9 years, although they have a similar range of 0 to 20 years of education. In order to assess how educated the couples’ families were, we collected information on the education level of both spouses’ parents. There is a clear difference in the education levels of the sampled individuals and the education levels of their parents, indicating that the average level of education in this area has been rising over time. Additionally, due to the preference for educating sons over daughters, older-generation women are less educated than older-generation men. In terms of income, the wives’ families own about the same amount of land on average as their husbands’. The majority of households we sampled would be considered poor by global standards, with about half depending on self-subsistence agriculture to support themselves. Another variable that is used as a control is the husbands’ birth order. There has been a great deal of literature indicating that socioeconomic choices parents make for their children vary depending on the birth order of the child. For instance, first-born girls tend to be better educated than second- or third-born daughters, and Das Gupta (1987) shows that later-born daughters suffer disproportionately higher child mortality. So, I control for birth-order to ensure that I avoid picking up on marital outcomes determined by birth order rather than by sex ratio.
Riah Forbes Honors Thesis May 10, 2010 Table 1
Variable Wife’s age Husband’s age Wife’s age at marriage Husband’s age at marriage Age difference between spouses Distance traveled by wife from childhood home Wife’s years of education Husband’s years of education Wife’s family landholdings Husband’s family landholdings Years of education of wife’s father Years of education of wife’s mother Years of education of husband’s father Years of education of husband’s mother Observations 381 314 223 228 314 234 337 315 229 167 228 228 198 206 Mean 31.97 37.20 17.70 21.50 4.60 61.38 5.55 9.10 2.26 2.66 4.44 1.11 3.30 0.75 Std. Dev. 9.98 11.25 4.39 6.26 3.99 117.68 5.05 4.33 5.60 6.43 5.29 3.05 4.58 2.23 Min 15 15 10 4 -7 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Max 55 70 41 44 28 1300 19 20 62.5 65 19 15 15 10
Riah Forbes Honors Thesis May 10, 2010
Wife’s birth order Husband’s birth order 230 185 2.87 2.82 1.85 1.94 0 1 10 10
To account for time trends in the marriage market, I categorize the women in the sample into 4 age cohorts - women aged between 15 and 24 years, 25 and 34 years, 35 and 44 years, and 45 and 55 years. Since there is some misreporting of age and marital information for older women, women aged above 55 years were dropped from the sample. These cohorts were defined in this fashion to ensure a roughly uniform representation of each age category within each of the three districts surveyed. Table 2 shows the number of women in each cohort by district.
District Age Cohort 15-24 25-34 35-44 45-55 Total Faridabad 54 50 35 24 163 Jhajjar 36 44 29 25 134 Sonipat 19 27 22 16 84 Total 109 121 86 65 381
I use the district as the geographical unit in this study, since district boundaries have traditionally been taken to be the boundaries of the marriage market (Foster and Rosenzweig 2001). Abramitzky et al. (2008) similarly assume that the boundaries of the French marriage
22 Riah Forbes Honors Thesis May 10, 2010 market are the départements, or districts. I assume that the average age of marriage is 20 within each age cohort and then determine the district sex ratio at that time as a proxy for the district sex ratio each individual faced at marriage. For instance, I use district data from 2001 for the 15-24 cohort, 1991 data for the 25-34 cohort, 1981 data for the 35-44 cohort and 1971 data for the 4555 cohort. Sex ratios at marriage by age cohort and district are detailed in Table 3.
District Faridabad Year of data used 2001 1991 1981 1971 2001 1991 1981 1971 2001 1991 1981 1971 Age cohort 15-24 25-34 35-44 45-55 15-24 25-34 35-44 45-55 15-24 25-34 35-44 45-55 Sex ratio at marriage1 839 828 811 810 847 861 891 903 839 840 866 867
These results confirm that the districts studied have a skewed sex ratio, with only one district in 1971 having a sex ratio of more than 900 women to 1000 men. Also, the general trend has been a relative decrease of women, with younger age cohorts facing a more skewed ratio than older cohorts, as discussed earlier. This validates the claim that the region is experiencing a declining sex ratio over time. To capture the different characteristics of each district, I include basic socioeconomic variables of the district as fixed effects (discussed in the Empirical Strategy section).
Marriage age is assumed to be when the average age of the cohort is 20.
23 Riah Forbes Honors Thesis May 10, 2010
District Variable Rural population Employment rate Literacy rate Female literacy rate School enrollment rate (6-11 year age range) Number of rural maternal deaths Number of post offices per 100,000 people Faridabad 973242 27.8 70.8 56.8 85.2 Jhajjar 684975 30.9 72.5 59.9 64.6 Sonipat 957800 30.2 73.7 61.7 107.9
V. Empirical Strategy
I begin by examining how district level sex ratio affects female bargaining power, assessed through measures of children’s education and health, controlling for age and gender of the child. I use the number of years a child was educated and a dummy variable for whether the mother had a prenatal exam while pregnant as a proxy for the child’s health. This gives some indication of whether a lower sex ratio increases female bargaining power. Equation (i) is for boys, equation (ii) is for girls and equation (iii) is for all children, shown below.
SexRatioi = β0 + β1 Edui + β2 Pr enat i + β3 Agei + β4 Malei + ε i
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I then analyze the effect of the sex ratio on marriage market outcomes by running a simple regression of the independent variables, age difference between spouses and distance traveled by the wife, on the dependent variable, district sex ratio.
AgeDiffi = β0 +β1SexRatioi +β2Xi +εi WifeDisti = β0 +β1SexRatioi +β2Xi +εi
I include a number of household-level variables X as controls in this regression. The education controls include husband’s years of education, Edu, the type of school he attended (public, private, religious or other), EduType, and his parents’ years of education, DadEdu and MomEdu. I use the amount of land owned by his family, ParentLand, as a measure of income. This will be modified in regressions 5 and 6. Apart from education and income controls, I control for the birth order of the husband, BOrder. As mentioned in the previous section, this is a necessary control as parents often make different decisions for their child based on his/her birth order. This analysis assumes that the husband chooses his wife from a pool of potential candidates and so characteristics of the woman, like her education, birth order and income, which could influence this decision are considered endogenous. Hence, the regression only controls for the husband’s characteristics, not the wife’s. One concern with this analysis is a lack of control for fixed effects within the three districts. Districts could have different education, income or employment levels, all of which
25 Riah Forbes Honors Thesis May 10, 2010 could bias the regression results. Additionally, there might be time-invariant cultural differences between districts. I tackle this problem in two separate ways. First, I include a set of district-level control variables D, summarized in the Data Collection section, to obtain regressions (2a) and (2b). These include demographic measures like population and employment rates, health measures like maternal death tolls, and education measures like literacy and school enrollment rates. I also include the number of post offices (per 100,000 of population) as a measure of the connectedness of the district with other areas - a factor that could influence the potential for women to migrate for marriage.
AgeDiffi = β0 +β1SexRatioi +β2 Xi +β3Di +εi WifeDisti = β0 +β1SexRatioi +β2 Xi +β3Di +εi
The second approach is to use a district-level fixed-effects model in regressions (3a) and (3b) instead of a simple regression to mitigate the concern of picking up district fixed effects.
AgeDiffi = β0 +β1SexRatioi +β2 Xi +β3DistrictFixedEffectsi +εi WifeDisti = β0 +β1SexRatioi +β2 Xi +β3DistrictFixedEffectsi +εi
Another potential concern with this analysis is that the regression coefficients are picking up time-driven effects, rather than sex ratio driven ones. The summary statistics show differences in education between the older generation and the younger generation, and there could be other
26 Riah Forbes Honors Thesis May 10, 2010 time-varying factors like economic growth or increasing connectedness of districts that could bias the results. Ideally, I would like to include time-varying district-level variables. However, this data is impossible to obtain, since the boundaries of all three districts have changed since 1971. Faridabad was separated from neighboring Gurgaon in 1981, Sonipat was also separated from the larger district of Rohtak in 1981 and Jhajjar was separated in 2001. This makes it challenging to obtain time-varying district-level data for the district unit, as it is currently defined. Since I am unable to obtain this data, I include age cohort fixed effects along with district fixed effects in the next regressions to control for some time variation instead.
AgeDiffi = β0 +β1SexRatioi +β2 Xi + β3DistrictFixedEffectsi +
WifeDisti = β0 +β1SexRatioi +β2 Xi + β3DistrictFixedEffectsi +
Although I control for parental landholdings, it is possible that marriage market effects are different depending on the husband’s income bracket. To account for income varying effects, I include a dummy variable for whether the husband has non-marginal landholdings (greater than 1 acre) and interact this with the sex ratio variable, running the following regressions.
AgeDiffi = β0 +β1SexRatioi +β2 HasLandi + β3 SexRatioi x HasLandi +
WifeDisti = β0 +β1SexRatioi +β2 HasLandi + β3 SexRatioi x HasLandi +
27 Riah Forbes Honors Thesis May 10, 2010
I then repeat these regressions including both district fixed effects and age cohort fixed effects to obtain regressions (6a) and (6b) shown below.
AgeDiffi = β0 +β1SexRatioi +β2 HasLandi + β3 SexRatioi x HasLandi +
β4DistrictFixedEffectsi +β5CohortFixedEffectsi +εI
WifeDisti = β0 +β1SexRatioi +β2 HasLandi + β3 SexRatioi x HasLandi +
β4DistrictFixedEffectsi +β5CohortFixedEffectsi +εI
The purpose of this regression is to assess the degree to which the marriage market outcomes driven by sex ratios depends on the economic status of the husband. For instance, it is feasible that women are more likely to travel from further away if her potential husband has a higher income level, since she is more likely to improve her own economic status in this case.
The results from the preliminary regression of district-level sex ratio on education and prenatal health of the child, controlling for the child’s age and sex, are shown in the table below. Equation (i) is for male children, equation (ii) is for female children and equation (iii) includes both and controls for gender. The results in Table 5 show no significant effect of sex ratio on children’s education and health outcomes, even when divided by gender. This indicates that the
28 Riah Forbes Honors Thesis May 10, 2010 sex ratio has little or no impact on the bargaining power of women after marriage, contradicting Chiappori’s results.
(ii) (iii) District sex ratio at time of mother’s marriage 0.198 -0.103 0.040 (0.34) (0.12) (0.09) 0.019 0.019 0.019 (0.76) (0.86) (1.10) 0.519 0.211 0.460 (1.44) (0.36) (1.52) 0.000 0.000 -3.093 (.) (.) (1.06) 844.161 846.738 849.213 (233.37)*** (197.79)*** (165.10)*** 319 177 496 0.03 0.01 0.02 (i)
edu prenat age male Constant Observations R-squared Absolute value of t statistics in parentheses * significant at 10%; ** significant at 5%; *** significant at 1%
Table 6 summarizes the regression results of spousal age difference on district sex ratio. Contrary to the hypothesis that falling sex ratios increase the spousal age gap, district sex ratio here has a slightly positive effect on the age gap and a slightly negative effect when both age cohort and district fixed effects are included. However, none of these results are significant at the 10% level, indicating that men are not responding to the marriage market squeeze by marrying younger women. The husband’s father’s education is the only variable that has a significant negative effect on the age gap. It should also be noted that the results from regressions (2) and (3) are the same, indicating that all time-invariant district-level variation is captured in the district variables included in (2).
29 Riah Forbes Honors Thesis May 10, 2010
(1) sexratio edu1 edutype1 parentland1 dadedu1 momedu1 border1 dist_literacy dist_femalelit dist_enrollment dist_numpost dist_matdeath dist_ruralpop dist_employment _Idistrict_2 _Idistrict_3 _Iagecatego_2 _Iagecatego_3 _Iagecatego_4 hasland1 sexratio_hasland1 0.006 (0.52) 0.076 (0.61) -0.735 (0.57) -0.037 (0.65) -0.149 (1.58) 0.242 (1.23) 0.309 (1.52) (2) 0.003 (0.14) 0.085 (0.68) -0.565 (0.43) -0.036 (0.63) -0.169 (1.77)* 0.214 (1.02) 0.280 (1.36) 0.000 (.) 0.000 (.) -0.041 (0.85) 0.000 (.) 0.000 (.) 0.000 (0.22) 0.000 (.) (3) (4) Age difference between spouses 0.003 -0.018 (0.14) (0.76) 0.085 0.082 (0.68) (0.66) -0.565 0.076 (0.43) (0.06) -0.036 -0.052 (0.63) (0.89) -0.169 -0.092 (1.77)* (0.90) 0.214 0.247 (1.02) (1.19) 0.280 0.283 (1.36) (1.37) (5) 0.008 (0.34) 0.074 (0.59) -0.500 (0.38) -0.021 (0.35) -0.159 (1.63) 0.224 (1.05) 0.264 (1.27) (6) -0.010 (0.41) 0.069 (0.55) 0.216 (0.16) -0.040 (0.65) -0.095 (0.92) 0.230 (1.10) 0.244 (1.16)
1.460 (0.94) -0.331 (0.27) 0.997 (0.94) 2.439 (2.19)** 2.566 (2.16)** 19.147 (0.82) -0.023 (0.84)
1.893 (1.17) 0.047 (0.04) 1.084 (1.01) 2.764 (2.33)** 2.601 (2.08)** 25.472 (1.07) -0.030 (1.06)
Riah Forbes Honors Thesis May 10, 2010
Constant Observations R-squared Absolute value of t statistics in parentheses * significant at 10%; ** significant at 5%; *** significant at 1% Number of district -0.855 (0.08) 130 0.06 3.790 (0.17) 130 0.07 1.956 (0.10) 130 0.06 16.785 (0.87) 130 0.12 -2.055 (0.10) 130 0.06 9.673 (0.47) 130 0.13
Table 7 summarizes regression results of the distance traveled by the wife from her natal home on district sex ratio. District sex ratio has a negative effect on the distance traveled, i.e. districts with a relative scarcity of women have more women migrating from further away to that district. This effect is significant when controlling for both district fixed effects and age cohort fixed effects. Another significant effect is that men from lower educated families, i.e. men whose mothers have fewer years of education, are more likely to marry women who have migrated from far away. Although the interaction effect of sex ratios and high income is negative, this result is not significant even at the 10% level, implying that there is no significant effect of husband’s income on a woman’s likelihood to migrate.
(1) sexratio edu1 edutype1 parentland1 -0.132 (0.33) 3.654 (0.91) -25.518 (0.63) 0.324 (2) -1.445 (2.06)** 3.992 (1.01) -20.496 (0.51) 0.895 (3) (4) Distance travelled by wife -1.445 -1.369 (2.06)** (1.78)* 3.992 3.707 (1.01) (0.93) -20.496 -32.028 (0.51) (0.77) 0.895 0.956 (5) -1.283 (1.70)* 3.693 (0.92) -18.945 (0.47) 1.219 (6) -1.209 (1.49) 3.483 (0.86) -29.993 (0.71) 1.437
Riah Forbes Honors Thesis May 10, 2010
dadedu1 momedu1 border1 dist_literacy dist_femalelit dist_enrollment dist_numpost dist_matdeath dist_ruralpop dist_employment _Idistrict_2 _Idistrict_3 _Iagecatego_2 _Iagecatego_3 _Iagecatego_4 hasland1 sexratio_hasland1 Constant Observations R-squared Absolute value of t statistics in parentheses * significant at 10%; ** significant at 5%; *** significant at 1% Number of district 190.689 (0.54) 123 0.02 1,584.346 (2.26)** 123 0.07 1,303.900 (2.16)** 123 0.06 1,225.394 (1.96)* 123 0.09 (0.17) -2.047 (0.67) -5.565 (0.91) -4.762 (0.74) (0.47) -2.649 (0.87) -10.688 (1.66)* -5.226 (0.82) 0.000 (.) 0.000 (.) 1.561 (1.04) 0.000 (.) 0.000 (.) -0.000 (1.96)* 0.000 (.) (0.47) -2.649 (0.87) -10.688 (1.66)* -5.226 (0.82) (0.49) -2.509 (0.76) -11.177 (1.73)* -4.176 (0.64) (0.61) -2.750 (0.88) -10.844 (1.66) -5.782 (0.89) (0.69) -2.600 (0.78) -11.177 (1.70)* -4.823 (0.72)
100.955 (2.04)** 44.794 (1.15) -45.998 (1.38) -23.940 (0.66) -34.730 (0.92) 483.593 (0.65) -0.567 (0.65) 1,166.136 (1.80)* 123 0.06
107.453 (2.08)** 50.704 (1.24) -45.521 (1.34) -21.566 (0.56) -37.793 (0.95) 516.843 (0.67) -0.612 (0.67) 1,086.076 (1.63) 123 0.09
32 Riah Forbes Honors Thesis May 10, 2010
VII. Conclusion & Discussion
My results contradict studies like Edlund’s (1999), which find that men respond to the marriage market squeeze caused by the sex ratio decline by marrying younger women. In fact, this study implies that the age gap between spouses remains unchanged, with the average marriage age for both men and women rising over time. However, districts with a relative scarcity of women (lower sex ratio) have more women migrating there from further away. This indicates that men have responded to the marriage market squeeze by looking further afield for potential spouses, instead of by marring relatively younger women. An interesting addition to this is that men with higher-educated mothers tend to marry women whose natal homes are closer while men whose mothers have less education marry women from further away. A potential explanation for this is that men from better-educated families have a higher attractiveness index in the marriage market. Their proposals are more likely to be accepted and so they have a higher likelihood of finding a wife within their own district. Many of this study’s limitations are data-driven, which lead to many opportunities for further research. Firstly, due to unavailability of data going back to 1971, I was forced to use the sex ratio of the whole population instead of simply the 0-6 year age group at the district level. This could have biased the results as the numbers are influenced by male and female mortality rates, as well as male migration rates. Secondly, as mentioned in the empirical analysis section, I was unable to obtain time-varying district-level data due to the changes in district boundaries over the last 40 years. Thirdly, the older cohorts (above the age of 55) had to be dropped from this study and many of the concerns with that data could have been mitigated if I had panel data.
33 Riah Forbes Honors Thesis May 10, 2010 Fourthly, we were only able to collect data from one block in each district due to time constraints. It would be extremely useful to extend this across each districts, survey a larger number of districts in Haryana and even in other states to obtain a wider spread of results. Both the result of a constant age gap and an expanding marriage market support the proposition that female bargaining power has remained unchanged. If men are not compelled to alter the type of women they marry (younger, from a different social class, etc.) because they have access to women from far away, then the marriage market squeeze is not being reflected in a way that alters female bargaining power. However, if the sex ratio of the surveyed districts and the ones surrounding them continue to worsen, the geographical boundaries of the market will hit an upper limit beyond which it will no longer be possible to ‘import’ brides. Men will be forced to marry women of different socioeconomic statuses, different age groups and perhaps even different castes. There is also likely to be a rise in bachelorhood with more men unable to find a bride, a phenomenon that has been shown to lead to higher crime rates and social tension. More research on the dynamics of the marriage market could lead to effective policy that improves female bargaining power. Higher female bargaining power has a trickle-down effect to future generations and can reduce the stigma against having daughters, ideally leading to a more balanced sex ratio in north India.
34 Riah Forbes Honors Thesis May 10, 2010
Source: Census of India 2001
Riah Forbes Honors Thesis May 10, 2010 Appendix 2
District Block Village Bhainsrawali Dehkola Lalpur Faridabad Faridabad Tajpur Teekri Khera Tigaon Badoli Bhagalpuri Bhagpur Jhajjar Beri Chamanpura Madana Kalan Mangwas Wazirpur Atterna Bhaira Bakipur Jatin Kalan Sonepat Rai Khurampura Manauli Pabsara Total 3 19 10 10 10 208 15 4 15 14 10 10 10 10 11 10 11 10 10 Number of Households Surveyed 11 15 12
36 Riah Forbes Honors Thesis May 10, 2010
References & Data Sources
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37 Riah Forbes Honors Thesis May 10, 2010 37-72. Choo, E.; Aloysius, S. 2006. “Who Marries Whom and Why.” Journal of Political Economy, February 114(1): pp. 175-201. Das Gupta, M. 1987. “Selective Discrimination against Female Children in Rural Punjab, India,” Population and Development Review, March 13(1): pp. 77-100. Deolalikar, A.; Rao, V. 1992. “The Demand for Dowries and Bride Characteristics in Marriage: Empirical Estimates for Rural South-Central India.” University of Washington. Working paper, May. Dyson, T.; Moore, M. 1983. “On kinship structure, female autonomy, and demographic behavior in the India,” Population and Development Review, March 9(1): pp. 35-60. Edlund, L. 1999. “Son Preference, Sex Ratios, and Marriage Patterns,” Journal of Political Economy, December 107(6): pp. 1275-1304. Edlund, L. 2006. “The Price of Marriage: Net vs. Gross Flows and the South Asian Dowry Debate,” Journal of the European Economic Association, April-May 4(23): pp. 542–551. Foster, Andrew and Mark R. Rosenzweig (2001). “Missing Women, the Marriage Market, and Economic Growth,” Brown University Working Paper. Ganatra, B. 2008. “Maintaining Access to Safe Abortion and Reducing Sex Ratio Imbalances in Asia,” Reporoductive Health Matters, 16(31): pp. 90-98. Goodkind, D. 1996. “On Substituting Sex Preference Strategies in East Asia: Does Prenatal Sex Selection Reduce Postnatal Discrimination?” Population and Development Review, March 22(1): pp. 111-125. Gould, E.D. 2003. “Waiting for Mr. Right: Rising Inequality and Declining Marriage Rates,” Journal of Urban Economics, March 53(2): pp. 257-281. Iyigun, M.; Randall, W. 2007. “Building the Family Nest: Pre-Marital Investments, Marriage Markets and Spousal Allocations,” Review of Economic Studies, March 74(2): pp. 507-535. Kishor, S. 1993. “May God Give Sons to All: Gender and Child Mortality in India,” American Sociological Review, April 58(2): pp. 247-265. Klasen, S. 1998. “Marriage, Bargaining, and Intrahousehold Resource Allocation: Excess
38 Riah Forbes Honors Thesis May 10, 2010 Female Mortality among Adults during Early German Development, 1740-1860,” Journal of Economic History, June 58(2): pp. 432-467. Lafortune, J. 2008. “Making Yourself Attractive: Pre-Marital Investments and Returns to Education in the Marriage Market,” Economics Department, MIT. 28 April, 2010. < http://econ-www.mit.edu/files/2155> Murthi, M.; Guio, A.C.; Dreze, J. 1995. “Mortality, Fertility, and Gender Bias in India: A District-Level Analysis,” Population and Development Review, December 21(4): pp. 745-782. Neelakantan, U.,; Tertilt, M. 2008. “A note on marriage market clearing,” Economics Letters, June 30: pp. 1-3. Park, C.B.; Cho, N. 1995. “Consequences of Son Preference in a Low-Fertility Society: Imbalance of the Sex Ratio at Birth in Korea,” Population and Development Review, March 21(1): pp. 59-84. Rao, V. 1993. “The Rising Price of Husbands: A Hedonic Analysis of Dowry Increases in Rural India,” Journal of Political Economy, Aug 101(4): pp. 666-677. Rosenzweig, M.; Stark, O. 1989. “Consumption Smoothing, Migration, and Marriage: Evidence from Rural India.” Journal of Political Economy, August 97(4): pp. 905-926. Sen, A. 1990. “More Than 100 Million Women Are Missing,” New York Review of Books, 37(2). Sen, A. 2003. “Missing women – revisited,” British Medical Journal, December 327(7427): pp. 1297-8. Sieff, D.F.; Betzig, L.; Cronk, L.; Fix, A.G.; Flinn, M.; Sattenspiel, L.; Gibson, K.; Herring, D.A.; Howell, N.; Johansson, S.R.; Pavlík, Z.; Sheets, J.W.; Smith, E.A.; Voland, E.; Siegelkow, E. 1990. “Explaining Biased Sex Ratios in Human Populations: A Critique of Recent Studies [and Comments and Reply],” Current Anthropology, February 31(1): pp. 25-48. South, S.J.; Lloyd, K.M. 1992. “Marriage Opportunities and Family Formation: Further Implications of Imbalanced Sex Ratios,” Journal of Marriage and the Family, May 54(2): pp. 440-451. Thomas, D. 1990. “Intra-Household Resource Allocation: An Inferential Approach,” Journal of Human Resources, Autumn 25(4): pp. 635-664.
39 Riah Forbes Honors Thesis May 10, 2010 Data Sources Census of India, 1991-2001. Retrieved February 2010. <http://www.indiastat.com> National Family Health Survey. 1992-93, 1998-99. Retrieved April 2010. <http://www.nfhsindia.org/data1.shtml>
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