DP12712 The Price of Gold: Dowry and Death in India

Author(s): Sonia Bhalotra, Abhishek Chakravarty, Selim Gulesci
Publication Date: February 2018
Keyword(s): commodity price shocks, dowry, gold price, missing girls, neonatal mortality, son preference
JEL(s): I14, J16, O12
Programme Areas: Development Economics
Link to this Page: www.cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=12712

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.