Do Marriage Markets Respond to a Natural Disaster? The Impact of Flooding of River Kosi in India
This paper studies the impact of flooding of river Kosi on the timing of marriage in Bihar, one of the poorest regions in the world. Using a difference-in-differences design, we show that Kosi floods reduced men’s age at marriage by almost a year and women’s age at marriage by over three months. Kosi floods also decreased secondary school completion rate of married men and women and labor force participation of married women. We interpret these results within a model of marriage markets, where in the absence of complete credit markets, local cultural practices, such as dowry, help smooth consumption in response to adverse income shocks. The impact of Kosi floods is more pronounced among Hindus (for whom dowry is the traditional marriage payment norm) and among the landless (who are more credit-constrained). Against the background of increased frequency of extreme floods in South Asia, this paper highlights a channel through which low mortality natural disasters can have long-lasting impacts.
Khanna, Madhulika; Kochhar, Nishtha
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