"Strategic Behaviour and Marriage Payments -Theory and Evidence from Senegal"

Jean-Philippe Platteau, Frederic Gaspart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This paper proposes an original theory of marriage payments based on insights gained from first-hand information collected in the Senegal river valley. This theory postulates that decisions about the brideprice, which are made by the bride's father, take into account the likely effects of the amount set on the risk of ill-treatment of the wife and the risk of marriage failure. Based on a sequential game with three players (the bride's father, the husband and the wife) and a matching process, it leads to a number of important predictions that are tested against Senegalese data relating to brideprices and various characteristics of women. The empirical results confirm that parents behave strategically by keeping brideprices down so as to reduce the risk of marriage failure for their daughters. Other interesting effects on marriage payments and the probability of separation are also highlighted, stressing the role of the bride's bargaining power in her own family.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-185
Number of pages37
JournalEconomic Development and Cultural Change
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • marriage payments
  • divorce.
  • household behavior
  • gender
  • brideprice


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