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    Consumption smoothing, migration and marriage: evidence from rural India.

    Rosenzweig MR; Stark O

    Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University, Migration and Development Program, 1987 Sep. 27 p. (Migration and Development Program Discussion Paper No. 32)

    The marital arrangements among households in rural India were examined to explain mobility patterns. It was hypothesized that the marrying out 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. The study's data were drawn from a longitudinal survey of households in 3 farm villages in Southern India. Of the 115 marriages included in this sample, only 14 (12%) involved partners who were not also relatives. In 82% of the marriages involving heads of households, the head and his wife had parents with either the same dry or irrigated landholdings or with the same parental schooling levels. The close matching of marital partners with respect to origin household characteristics and the diversity and distance characterizing the marriages were consistent with the hypothesis that marital arrangements influence a household's ability to smooth its consumption when confronted with highly variable income streams. The marital status of adult women in the household, and the interhousehold bonds created by marriage, is the decisive factor contributing to income risk mitigation. Marriage with migration contributed to a reduction in variability in consumption. Households exposed to higher income risks were more likely to invest in longer distance migration-marriage arrangements. The hypothesized and observed marriage-migration patterns contradict standard models of marriage or migration that are concerned primarily with search costs and static income gains.
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