“No Toilet, No Bride”

From Yaniv Stopnitzky, who is on the job market from Yale:

Abstract: Female bargaining power in rural Haryana, as in much of northern India, is constrained by widespread discrimination against women.  In recent years, however, women successfully demand private sanitation facilities from potential husbands as a precondition for marriage.  I study this shift in bargaining power by modeling latrine adoption as an investment that males can make to improve their desirability on the marriage market, and I show that increases in the proportion of females with strong sanitation preferences drive males’ investment in toilets.  Moreover, I show women’s ability to secure latrines increases when they are relatively scarce in a marriage market.  I test these predictions empirically by studying a sanitation program in Haryana, India, known colloquially as “No Toilet, No Bride”.  Using a triple difference empirical strategy based on households with and without marriageable boys, in Haryana and comparison states, before and after program exposure, I provide evidence that male investment in sanitation has increased by 15% as a result of the program, and this effect is explained almost entirely by marriage markets where women are scarce.  These results suggest the relative scarcity of women in Haryana has, conditional on women surviving to marriageable age, improved the ability of the remaining women to secure valuable goods.


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