Rental markets in everything

by on June 20, 2006 at 7:16 am in Economics | Permalink

Some husbands in western India are renting out their wives to other
men, cashing in on a shortage of single women available for marriage,
according to a news report Monday.

Atta Prajapati, a farm worker who lives in Gujarat state, leases out
his wife Laxmi to a wealthy landowner for $175 US a month, the Times of
India reported, citing unidentified police officials. A farm worker
earns a monthly minimum wage of around $22. Laxmi is expected to live
with the man, look after him and his house, and have sex with him, the
report said.

Here is the story.  Might we call this temporary polygamy?  For the pointer I thank Pablo Halkyard and also SunCraig.

1 Dan Cole June 20, 2006 at 8:21 am

Can wives rent out their husbands? Or do only wives constitute spousal property?

2 tom s. June 20, 2006 at 8:34 am

We might call this slavery.

3 Mark June 20, 2006 at 8:50 am

There is already a market imperfection which exists where a wealthy landlord cannot find a wife while a poor labourer can – I suspect linked to the caste system.

Perhaps India should look at rectifying their caste structure, thus increasing competition for wives and perhaps raising the value of female offspring.

4 triya June 20, 2006 at 9:30 am

Rectifying the caste structure is easier said than done. The caste system is not just a system of discrimination as most Westerners see it. It has much deeper roots in religion and culture. In addition, in the past two to three decades it has become a major political platform. The article mentions female infanticide which I think is a more plausible reason. Besides wealth has very little to do with caste. You will find equally wealthy and poor people across all the different castes. What the article does not mention is if the landlord was already married. I am guessing he would be married and she would just be his mistress. It is difficult to generalise anything about India, the cultural and economic systems are vastly different between the states.

5 Half Sigma June 20, 2006 at 10:14 am

The “Manhattan Madam” charged $700/hr for her prostitutes’ services. What a bargain $175/month is in comparison, for a service that includes not only sex but also housekeeping services.

6 Vish Subramanian June 20, 2006 at 12:01 pm

This is just feudalism – wealthy landowners, and landless laborers – and sex slavery. Tyler seems to think its funny, and no doubt the landowners do too.

7 AnonymousOne June 20, 2006 at 12:53 pm

Not necessarily auto,

You’re assuming that a perfect market is in effect tand taht there aren’t any other externalities that could be influencing the actions of the families.

I have to admit though, I do find this kind of repulsive.

8 save_the_rustbelt June 20, 2006 at 3:19 pm

This will be compounded by the birthrate problems, with boys being born at a much higher rate than girls (often because of selective abortion).

If this runs 120/100 for a couple of decades they will have major social turmoil, or perhaps in 50 years a reversal in which girls become more valuable than boys.

9 Sandy P June 20, 2006 at 5:40 pm

As usual, good enough to s***(, not good enough to marry.

The caste system is coming down – what happens if for some odd reason
the wealthy husband actually wants to marry the temp lower caste spouse?

10 JR June 21, 2006 at 6:24 pm

“You will find equally wealthy and poor people
across all the different castes.” – triya

” Nearly 90 percent of all the poor Indians and 95 percent of all the illiterate Indians are Dalits [“untouchables”].”-

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