Muslim family law, prenuptial agreements, and the emergence of dowry in Bangladesh

Published

Journal Article

We explain trends in dowry levels in Bangladesh by drawing attention to an institutional feature of marriage contracts previously ignored in the literature: mehr or traditional Islamic bride-price. We develop a model of marriage contracts in which mehr serves as a barrier to husbands exiting marriage and a component of dowry as an amount that ex ante compensates the groom for the cost of mehr. We investigate how mehr and dowry respond to exogenous changes in the costs of polygamy and divorce, and show that our model gives a different set of predictions than traditional models. We show that major changes in dowry levels took place precisely after the legal changes, corresponding to simultaneous changes in levels of mehr. © 2010 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Ambrus, A; Field, E; Torero, M

Published Date

  • August 1, 2010

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 125 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 1349 - 1397

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1531-4650

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0033-5533

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1162/qjec.2010.125.3.1349

Citation Source

  • Scopus