Discussion Paper Details

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Title: The Price of Gold: Dowry and Death in India

Author(s): Sonia Bhalotra, Abhishek Chakravarty and Selim Gulesci

Publication Date: February 2018

Keyword(s): commodity price shocks, dowry, gold price, missing girls, neonatal mortality and son preference

Programme Area(s): Development Economics

Abstract: We provide evidence that dowry costs motivate son-preferring behaviors in India. Since gold is an integral part of dowry, we study parental responses to shocks in the world gold price. Exploiting monthly variation in gold prices across 35 years, as well as an event study around a massive gold price hike in December 1979, we find that monthly changes in gold prices lead to an increase in girl relative to boy neonatal mortality and that the surviving girls are shorter. After the introduction of prenatal sex determination technology, we find that gold price shocks increase female foeticide.

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Bibliographic Reference

Bhalotra, S, Chakravarty, A and Gulesci, S. 2018. 'The Price of Gold: Dowry and Death in India'. London, Centre for Economic Policy Research.