, Volume 50, Issue 5, pp 1845–1871 | Cite as

Consanguinity and Other Marriage Market Effects of a Wealth Shock in Bangladesh

  • Ahmed Mushfiq MobarakEmail author
  • Randall Kuhn
  • Christina Peters


This paper uses a wealth shock from the construction of a flood protection embankment in rural Bangladesh coupled with data on the universe of all 52,000 marriage decisions between 1982 and 1996 to examine changes in marital prospects for households protected by the embankment relative to unprotected households living on the other side of the river. We use difference-in-difference specifications to document that brides from protected households commanded larger dowries, married wealthier households, and became less likely to marry biological relatives. Financial liquidity-constrained households appear to use within-family marriage (in which one can promise ex-post payments) as a form of credit to meet up-front dowry demands, but the resultant wealth shock for households protected by the embankment relaxed this need to marry consanguineously. Our results shed light on the socioeconomic roots of consanguinity, which carries health risks for offspring but can also carry substantial benefits for the families involved.


Marriage Embankment Flood protection Consanguinity 



We thank the National Science Foundation Human and Social Dynamics Grant SES-0527751 for financial support; ICDDR,B for their hospitality during fieldwork; and Andrew Foster, Grant Miller, Murat Iyigun, Aloysius Siow, Mark Rosenzweig, Eric Edmonds, Paul Schultz, and seminar participants at the University of California-Berkeley, Boston College, University of Maryland–College Park, University of Washington at Seattle, the University of British Columbia, Penn State, Yale School of Management, University of Colorado at Boulder (IBS), 9th BREAD Conference, and the Econometric Society meetings for helpful comments and discussion.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak
    • 1
    Email author
  • Randall Kuhn
    • 2
  • Christina Peters
    • 3
  1. 1.School of ManagementYale UniversityNew HavenUSA
  2. 2.Josef Korbel School of International StudiesUniversity of DenverDenverUSA
  3. 3.Department of EconomicsMetropolitan State University of DenverDenverUSA

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