Seminars & Events

APL (Ajiken Power Lunch)

Purdah, dowry and development in Pakistan

APL (Ajiken Power Lunch) is a lunchtime workshop open to public, including IDE staffs, visiting research fellows, IDEAS students, outside researchers and graduate students. This workshop provides a platform for presentation of any work in progress where we can discuss in either English or Japanese.

Those who would attend a seminar are asked to announce yourself to receptionists on your arrival at the IDE and to obtain APL Organizers' signature on your admission card after the seminar.


December 4, 2017. (Monday) 12:30-14:00


Purdah, dowry and development in Pakistan

The practice of purdah limits women’s mobility and their participation in wage employment. Dowry, a payment made at marriage by the bride’s family to that of the groom, reflects (in part) differential earning power between wife and husband. In Pakistan, purdah is widely practiced; women’s labor force participation rate is among the lowest in the world. Many women are limited to agricultural and household activities; in contrast to other emerging economies, they play very little role in the manufacturing economy. Dowry is also pervasive, especially among poor households. Surprisingly, economists have devoted very little formal attention to these phenomena. In this work-in-progress we explore some macroeconomic and microeconomic consequences of purdah and dowry with special reference to Pakistan. At the economy-wide level, we show that restrictions on female participation in paid employment limit the country’s potential for productive participation in the global economy. Because of purdah, productive resources (including women’s labor) are inefficiently allocated and returns on investments in female human capital are low; the female-male wage gap is large, and potential GDP growth is diminished. As a consequence of all these, both the incentives and the compulsion to provide dowry remain strong in spite of legal prohibitions on the practice. Using national household survey data, we find that the need to generate savings for dowry is a significant driver of male labor export, especially from poor households.

Ian Coxhead (University of Wisconsin at Madison;, Hitotsubashi University)




Institute of Developing Economies, APL Organizers
E-mail: APLE-mail