THE EFFECT OF SKEWED SEX RATIOS ONMARRIAGE MARKETS IN INDIA
May 10, 2010Riah ForbesEconomicsStanford UniversityStanford, CA email@example.com the direction of Prof. Anjini Kochar
This paper will explore how the declining sex ratio in Haryana, a state in north India, hasaffected the local marriage market. The ratio of the number of women to men has been fallingover time, due to the strong preference for sons and prevalence of sex-selective abortion in thisregion. Studies show that lower sex ratios lead to higher female bargaining power, but Iempirically show that there has been no change in female bargaining power in the regionsurveyed. 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 primarydata collected from households in three districts in Haryana. I conclude that the declining sexratio 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 ratiochange, since the marriage market is simply expanding geographically to compensate for theshortage of women rather than by directly altering intra-household dynamics.
: marriage market, Haryana, sex ratio, bargaining power, India, assortative matching
: 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 GeoffreyRothwell for his advice about the Economics honors program. I would also like to thank Teresa Molina, Lorra de laPaz, Rebecca Schindel and Sze Suen for all their help, and Salone Kapur and Shruti Tibrewala for keeping me saneover the last few months. Finally, I would like to dedicate this study to the men, women and children I met in ruralHaryana, whose strength, perseverance and good humor continue to humble and inspire me.