Forced Marriage and Birth Outcomes

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We study the impact of bride kidnapping, a peculiar form of marriage practiced in Central Asia, on child birth weight. The search for a suitable mate in a kidnapped marriage is initiated by the groom, and there is typically non-coerced consent only by the male. We expect adverse consequences from such marriages, working through poor spousal matching quality and subsequent psychosocial stress. We analyze survey data from rural Kyrgyzstan. We apply several estimation models, including an IV estimation in which we instrument kidnapping among young women with the district-level prevalence of kidnapping among older women. Our findings indicate that children born to kidnapped mothers are of a substantially lower birth weight than children born to mothers who are not kidnapped. This has important implications for children’s long-term development; it also discredits the ritualized-kidnapping-as-elopement view.







Charles Maxwell Becker

Research Professor of Economics

Charles Becker is interested in exploring the economies of such countries as Kazakhstan, India, sub-Saharan Africa, Russia, and Kyrgyzstan. His research has focused on economic demography, social security system forecasting, CGE modeling, mortality and disability risk, determinants of health care utilization, computable general equilibrium simulation modeling, and urban economics. His on-going projects involve assessing infant mortality rates, poverty in developing countries, accidental deaths in middle-income countries, and the performance of minority students in Economics doctoral programs. He recently worked with Irina Merkuryeva on a project investigating, “Disability Risk and Miraculous Recoveries in Russia,” and with Rebecca Anthopolos on, “Gobal Infant Mortality: Initial results from a cross-country infant mortality comparison project.” He also collaborated with Grigory Marchenko, Sabit Khakimzhanov, Ai-Gul Seitenova, and Vladimir Ivliev on a project entitled, “Social Secutiry Reform in Transition Economies: Lessons from Kazakhstan,” and with Amitava Krishna Dutt and Jaime Ros on, “Urbanization and Rural-Urban Migration.”

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