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Melvin Stephens, Estimating Program Benefits

Change and Persistence in Marriage Payments in Vietnam, 1963-2000

Publication Abstract

Download PDF versionTeerawichitchainan, Bussarawan, and John E. Knodel. 2011. "Change and Persistence in Marriage Payments in Vietnam, 1963-2000." PSC Research Report No. 11-733. March 2011.

Trends and determinants of marriage payments have rarely been examined at the population level, despite their plausible implications for the welfare of family and the distribution of wealth across families and generations. In this study, we analyze population-based data from the Vietnam Study of Family Change to examine prevalence, directions, and magnitude of marriage payments in Vietnam from 1963 to 2000. We investigate the extent to which structural and policy transformations (particularly the socialist policy that banned brideprice and subsequent market reform) influenced the practice of marriage payments as well as estimate how these societal changes indirectly impacted payments via their effects on population characteristics. Results indicate nuanced patterns of marriage payments during pre-socialist years. The socialist attempts to eradicate brideprice had moderate impacts in the North but were unsuccessful in the South. Marriage payments returned with vengeance following market reform. Results suggest that structural and policy change explained most of the observed variations in marriage payments and that individual characteristics mattered relatively little. The reemergence of marriage payments likely attests the persistence of traditional values and cultural resilience of marriage payments in the Vietnamese society.

Country of focus: Vietnam.

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