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Far above rubies: Bride price and extramarital sexual relations in Uganda


The custom of bride price involves the payment of goods or cash from the groom’s family to the bride’s family at the time of marriage. Data from a household survey in Uganda were used to estimate the relationship between payment of bride price and non-marital sexual relationships. A robust correlation between bride price payment and lower rates of non-marital sexual relationships is found for women but not for men. One interpretation we offer for these findings is that bride price reflects the price of women’s sexual fidelity to men. This interpretation makes sense in light of the refundable nature of bride price in Uganda.

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Helpful comments were received from the editor, Junsen Zhang, two anonymous referees, Stephane Mechoulan, Catherine Sofer, and Howard Yourow.

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Correspondence to David Bishai.

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Responsible editor: Junsen Zhang

“Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies.” –Proverbs 31:10

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Bishai, D., Grossbard, S. Far above rubies: Bride price and extramarital sexual relations in Uganda. J Popul Econ 23, 1177–1187 (2010).

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  • Marriage
  • Extramarital relations
  • Bride price
  • Uganda

JEL Classification

  • D13
  • I12
  • J13
  • 015