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Sanitation and marriage markets in India: evidence from the total sanitation campaign

Britta Augsburg, Juan P. Baquero, Sanghmitra Gautam and Paul Rodríguez-Lesmes
IFS Working Paper W21/44

We analyse the marriage decisions of men and women in rural India, focusing on the added attractiveness of sanitation within the marital living arrangement. We demonstrate that the Government’s Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) changed marriage market outcomes for both men and women. To decompose the overall policy impact on the marriage market equilibrium, we develop a simple matching model. The model is identified and estimated using data from the Indian Human Development household survey (IHDS) and quasi-random variation from the TSC. Decompositions reveal that (i) cohorts within TSC exposed markets experienced a shift in marital gains both across matches and within a given match, which is characterised by a marked gender asymmetry, and that (ii) TSC exposure led to a decline in women’s effective control over resources, reflected in the surplus division.

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