Suzanna Khalifa (Aix-Marseille School of Economics)
18 January 2023 @ 12:00 - 13:15
- Past event
Female Genital Cutting and Bride Price
This paper explores the relationship between female genital cutting (FGC) and the marriage market. I develop a general equilibrium model of parents’ decisions to cut their daughters, where the bride price, the groom’s traditional payment to the bride’s family upon marriage, is determined endogenously in the marriage market. The model predicts that in a context where FGC is a marker of chastity, an unobservable but valuable trait in the marriage market, the practice increases the marital surplus, the bride price. I use a difference-in-differences approach and test the model’s predictions on Egyptian data. I build a village-level dataset of the coverage of an anti-FGC campaign, using archive information on Egyptian radio transmitters and radio propagation software. I find that cohorts exposed to the campaign are 13% less likely to be cut and receive a 24% lower bride price. When investigating whether FGC is a marker of chastity, I find that the decline in FGC is substituted by an increase in pre-marital virginity testing and child marriage. Finally, to better understand whether these marriage market returns provide an incentive for parents to cut their daughters, I conduct a cross-Africa analysis. I find that the practice of bride price is associated with a 16% higher likelihood of a daughter being cut.