“Why Dowries?” by Aloysius SIOW
University of Toronto
When married daughters leave their parental home and their married brothers do not, altruistic parents provide dowries for daughters and bequests for sons in order to solve a free riding problem between their married sons and daughters. The theory has predictions on the form of the dowry contract, the effect of family demographics on the value of the dowry, and the decline of dowries in previously dowry giving societies. The theory is consistent with cross-section dowry data from medieval Italy. It is also consistent with the factors that led to the decline of dowries in Sao Paulo, Brazil.