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Daughters, dowries, deliveries : the effect of marital payments on fertility choices in India

Alfano, Marco (2017) Daughters, dowries, deliveries : the effect of marital payments on fertility choices in India. Journal of Development Economics, 125. pp. 89-104.

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This paper investigates the effect of the differential pecuniary costs of sons and daughters on fertility decisions. The focus is on dowries in India, which increase the economic returns to sons and decrease the returns to daughters. The paper exploits an exogenous shift in the cost of girls relative to boys arising from a revision in anti-dowry law, which is shown to have decreased dowry transfers markedly. The reform is found to have attenuated the widely documented positive association between daughters and their parents’ fertility. The effect is particularly pronounced for more autonomous women and for individuals living in areas characterised by strong preferences for sons