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brideprice have great social and cultural significance, there is evidence that they account for only a small proportion of assets brought to marriage, at least in rural Ethiopia (Fafchamps and Quisumbing, 2002), and none at all in countries that do not practice either dowry or brideprice. In general, there are little quantitative data that capture both cross-sectional and longitudinal variation with enough detail to capture the significance of marriage conditions in different cultures. Thus, work analyzing marriage patterns and resources at marriage in a number of countries, using comparable data collection methodologies and empirical analyses, has been scarce.

This chapter contributes to the literature on marriage patterns by analyzing data on husband’s and wife’s human and physical capital and conditions surrounding marriage; the data were collected by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in six developing countries.1 Four data sets—Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Guatemala, and South Africa—were collected as part of a larger research program on gender and development policy at IFPRI (Bouis et al., 1998; Fafchamps and Quisumbing, 2002; Hallman, 2000; Hallman et al., 2005; Maluccio, Haddad, and May, 2000; Ruel et al., 2002; Quisumbing and de la Brière, 2000); the Mexico data were collected for the evaluation of PROGRESA (Programa Nacional de Educación, Salud, y Alimentación), a nationwide conditional transfer program (de la Brière and Quisumbing, 2000; Skoufias, 2001); and the Philippines data were part of an earlier study on gender difference in intergenerational transfers (Quisumbing, 1994).2 The data sets in all six countries used comparable data collection methodologies, drew from qualitative studies or the anthropological literature to formulate quantitative survey modules, and contain retrospective data on family background and physical and human capital at marriage for both husbands and wives. The IFPRI study countries were also chosen to capture geographic and cultural variation, as well as to focus on specific policy issues related to gender. Assets at marriage are deflated using the appropriate consumer price index (CPI) to make the real value of assets from earlier and later marriages comparable. Unlike the DHS, the samples are relatively small and are not nationally representative; the study sites are not, however, outliers relative to living conditions within each country (see Table 7-1). Moreover, because the surveys were not designed to


In this chapter, we use “union” and “marriage” interchangeably, although for most of our countries, the data refer to actual marriages. The exception is urban Guatemala, which has a high percentage of consensual unions (40 percent of unions in our sample).


The first author directed the overall research program at IFPRI while the second author worked intensively on the Bangladesh and Guatemala studies. The modules on assets at marriage were similar to those used in the Philippine study (Quisumbing, 1994), but were adapted for specific country conditions.

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