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Consumption Smoothing, Migration, and Marriage: Evidence from Rural India

Mark R. Rosenzweig and Oded Stark
Journal of Political Economy
Vol. 97, No. 4 (Aug., 1989), pp. 905-926
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1832196
Page Count: 22
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Consumption Smoothing, Migration, and Marriage: Evidence from Rural India
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Abstract

A significant proportion of migration in low-income countries, particularly in rural areas, is composed of moves by women for the purpose of marriage. We seek to explain these mobility patterns by examining marital arrangements among Indian households. In particular, we hypothesize that the marriage of daughters to locationally distant, dispersed yet kinship-related households is a manifestation of implicit interhousehold contractual arrangements aimed at mitigating income risks and facilitating consumption smoothing in an environment characterized by information costs and spatially covariant risks. Analysis of longitudinal South Indian village data lends support to the hypothesis. Marriage cum migration contributes significantly to a reduction in the variability of household food consumption. Farm households afflicted with more variable profits tend to engage in longer-distance marriage cum migration. The hypothesized and observed marriage cum migration patterns are in dissonance with standard models of marriage or migration that are concerned primarily with search costs and static income gains.

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