Sociology Index


Bride price is the transfer of wealth or possessions by the groom or, more typically, his family, to the bride's family on marriage. Bride price is a payment of money or goods made to a bride or her parents by the bridegroom or his parents. The term "bride price" is misleading because "price" has an association with the commercial transactions of market purchase in economy. Standard economic models of marriage contracts, starting with Becker (1981), explain the existence of the dowry and bride-price as pecuniary transfers necessary to clear marriage markets. Dowry is the wealth or possessions that a bride brings into the marriage.

Dowry amount or value is directly proportional to the groom's social status. These models predict that when marriage payments are made, either a payment is made from the bride to the groom (dowry) or a payment is made from the groom to the bride (bride-price), but not both. This contradicts facts of marriage contracts that when a dowry is paid, it is usually reciprocated with a bride-price.

Do Dowry and Bride Price Co-exist?

One important aspect characterizing marriages in India is the financial transfer made at the time of marriage between families involved. These transfers can go in both directions – from the bride’s family to the groom’s, known as dowry, and vice versa, known as brideprice. While previous research has focused on dowry and brideprice separately, the possibility of a joint determination has been ignored. - Afra Rahman Chowdhury.

Money and Marriage: The Practice of Dowry and Brideprice in Rural India - Afra Rahman Chowdhury.

Abstract: In this paper, I analyze dowry and brideprice as interdependent institutions. I use logistic, ordinary least square and seemingly unrelated regression models to provide a complete picture of the prevalence, diffusion and inflation of dowry and brideprice in India from 1975 to 1999.

The key finding is that the practice of dowry has expanded over time at both the country and the regional levels. The real value of dowry and brideprice has declined over time. Education and age of bride and groom, groom’s parental landholding, distance of marriage migration and the ratio of female to male at marriageable age are, in general, the important factors affecting the size of dowry.

Implications of bride price on domestic violence and reproductive health in Wakiso District, Uganda, Dan K. Kaye, Florence Mirembe, Anna Mia Ekstrom, Grace Bantebya Kyomuhendo, Annika Johansson.

Objective: Bride price payment is a gender issue with implications on gender relations in different socio-cultural contexts. In a qualitative research study on the perceptions of domestic violence in Wakiso district, payment of bride price emerged as one of the key factors associated with domestic violence.

Findings: Participants perceived bride price as indicating that a woman was ‘bought’ into the man’s household, which reduced her household decision-making roles. It limited women’s independence and perpetuated unequal gender power relations, especially regarding health-seeking behavior.

Conclusion: Bride price payment is a contextual factor that the community in Wakiso District, Uganda, perceived as associated with domestic violence, with serious sexual and reproductive health implications.

Critique on the Bride Price, Dr. Kao-Ly Yang
The Bride price in its cultural context.
In Hmong wedding, the groom has to pay a price for his bride. This pride is named the 'Bride Price'. The bride price is different from the “dowry” that Hmong people called with a specific category “khoom phij cuam”, made of money and material gifts that parents offer to the new couple. One cannot either compare the bride price with the dowry or say the dowry compensates the bride pride. In fact, the symbol of the 'bride price' is an intrinsic and fundamental element in the meaning of Hmong wedding. As for the bride price, it is the core of the wedding.

Economic analysis is used to examine the institution of bride-price. Supply and demand curves are developed in the context of the marriage market, and some hypotheses about the determinants of bride-price are derived. Using data collected by Granqvist in the Palestinian village of Artas, these hypotheses are tested by means of multiple regression analysis. The main explanatory variables are the productivity of the bride, the loss experienced by her own family, and the consumption of the wife in the marital home.

The Role and Determinants of Bride-Price: The Case of a Palestinian Village - Ivy Papps - Current Anthropology, Vol. 24, No. 2 (Apr., 1983). -  The incorporation into the analysis of uncertainty leads to the conclusion that exchange marriages-often observed in societies in which bride-price is paid-are more likely than others to end in divorce.

A Model Explaining Simultaneous Payments of a Dowry and Bride-Price - Nathan Nunn. I develop a model that explains why the dowry and bride-price are paid simultaneously. In the model, both payments are crucial, not just the net amount exchanged. The model is consistent with the general frequencies, patterns and characteristics of the dowry and bride-price observed across cultures.