Female Labor Force Participation and Dowries in Pakistan

Discussion Papers

No.728

by Momoe Makino

November 2018

ABSTRACT

Dowries are prevalent in South Asian countries, despite legal bans. Theoretical studies suggest that increasing women’s financial contribution to households is the key to effectively abolishing this practice. To empirically examine this proposition, we conducted a unique survey in rural Pakistan, and gathered contemporaneous information about the expected amount of dowry for unmarried daughters. The estimation results show a negative association between female labor force participation and the expected amount of dowry, whereas no negative association is observed with other marriage expenses. These findings suggest that the negative association derives from appreciation of working women rather than their stigmatization.

Keywords: Dowry, Female labor force participation, Marriage market, Assortative matching, South Asia, Pakistan

JEL classification:J12, J16, J29, O53, Z13

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