Effects of family planning and health services on women’s welfare: evidence on dowries and intra-household bargaining in Bangladesh
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- Peters, C. Rev Econ Household (2011) 9: 327. doi:10.1007/s11150-010-9100-7
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This paper demonstrates how the availability of family planning and maternal and child health services alters the structure of intra-household bargaining. The overall welfare gains from such programs are likely to be large, but when women obtain access to services only through marriage, some of these gains may be partially offset by changes in their bargaining power and in the dowries that they pay their husbands. I examine these marriage market effects using a family planning and health services program in rural Bangladesh, finding that compared to women without program access, women in the treatment area are 35% less likely to be able to make purchases without permission from their husbands or another household member. Moreover, a difference-in-difference specification confirms that women pay 14% higher dowries in order to obtain husbands with access to the program. The fact that adjustments are made both before and within marriage suggests that marital contracts in rural Bangladesh are negotiated along multiple margins.