Interim Report for：Female Empowerment and Social Institution
Edited by Yuya Kudo
Levirate marriage, whereby a widow is inherited by male relatives of her deceased husband,has anecdotally been viewed as informal insurance for widows who have limited property rights.This study investigates why this widespread practice in sub-Saharan Africa has recently beendisappearing. A developed game-theoretic analysis reveals thalevirate marriage arises asa pure strategy subgame perfect equilibrium when a husband’s clan desires to keep children of the deceased within its extended family and widows have limited independent livelihood means. Female empowerment renders levirate marriage redundant because it increases widows’ reservation utility. HIV/AIDS also discourages a husband’s clan from inheriting a widow who loses her husband to HIV/AIDS, reducing her remarriage prospects and thus, reservation utility because she is likely to be HIV positive. Consequently, widows’ welfare tends to decline
(increase) in step with the deterioration of levirate marriage driven by HIV/AIDS (female empowerment). By exploiting long-term household panel data drawn from rural Tanzania and testing multiple theoretical predictions relevant to widows’ welfare and women’s fertility, this study finds that HIV/AIDS is primarily responsible for the deterioration of levirate marriage.
Young widows in Africa may need some form of social protection against the influence of HIV/AIDS.
Dowry, often criticized as one of the worst gender-discriminatory practices, is prevalent in South Asian countries despite legal bans. Recent theoretical studies suggest that increasing the returns to human capital is the key to effectively abolishing the practice. The objective of the current study is to empirically examine this theoretical implication. The estimation results, based on the unique survey, show a negative association between female labor force participation and dowry amount, whereas no such association is systematically observed between other marriage expenses and female labor force participation. This implies that the negative association is derived from marriage market clearing rather than assortative matching of marriage. Female labor force participation seems positively evaluated in the marriage market and may be effective in discouraging the dowry practice.