Department of Economics
University of Toronto
150 St. George Street
Toronto, ON M5S 3A3
NBER Working Papers and Publications
|July 2016||Bride Price and Female Education|
with Nava Ashraf, Nathan Nunn, Alessandra Voena: w22417
Traditional cultural practices can play an important role in development, but can also inspire condemnation. The custom of bride price, prevalent throughout sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia as a payment by the groom to the family of the bride, is one example. In this paper, we show a perhaps surprising economic consequence of this practice. We revisit one of the best-studied historical development projects, the INPRES school construction program in Indonesia, and show that previously found small effects on female enrollment mask heterogeneity by bride price tradition. Ethnic groups that traditionally engage in bride price payments at marriage increased female enrollment in response to the program. Within these ethnic groups, higher female education at marriage is associated with a high...