Dowry Inflation: Perception or Reality?

Jane Lankes, Mary K. Shenk, Mary C. Towner, Nurul Alam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Research on South Asia has consistently documented increasing dowry amounts over the past several decades. Although recent studies have largely concluded this is due to an overall rise in prices, and therefore not a real increase per se, methodological limitations make this difficult to discern. In this paper, we assess: (1) if dowry amounts increased faster than the general inflation rate, and (2) how dowry amounts increased relative to income. Using data on rural Bangladesh from 1955 to 2010, we show trends in gross dowry, net dowry, and the ratio of dowry to income using multiple inflation adjustments. We find that only some aspects of dowries rose in certain periods, but the ratio of dowry to income steadily increased across time. We discuss implications of these results for understanding past contradictory findings and for gaining insight into the mechanisms by which widespread perceptions of dowry inflation may be maintained.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1641-1672
Number of pages32
JournalPopulation Research and Policy Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Demography
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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