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The male marital earnings premium in the context of bride wealth payments: evidence from South Africa.

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This study explores the nature of the male marital earnings premium in the context of a developing country in which the payment of bride wealth is practiced. We use data from the South African Labor Force Survey of September 2004 and the Labor Force Survey Panel (2001–4), the first national panel available in South Africa. We show that a robust and positive premium to marriage in cross‐sectional estimations is substantially reduced after controlling for individual fixed effects. Furthermore, we find evidence of an additional source of endogeneity created by the positive selection of men into marriage with faster earnings growth in the initial periods of the panel. Our results are to be expected if the payment of bride wealth or ilobolo, by a prospective husband to the bride’s family, is a significant constraint to marriage among black men in South Africa.


Accepted for publication to Economic Development and Cultural Change 58(2)January 2010. Article Stable URL:


Men, Black--South Africa., Wages--Men, black--South Africa., Bride price--South Africa., Labour productivity--South Africa., Labour market--South Africa., Married men--South Africa.