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Economies of Courtship: Gender, Work, and Material Transactions Between Brides and Grooms in Egypt

  • 2010-2012
  • Project
Salem, Rania, Princeton University

Study: “Economies of Courtship: Gender, Work, and Material Transactions Between Brides and Grooms in Egypt”
PI(s): Salem, Rania
Affiliation(s): Princeton University
Institutional Partner(s): IIE Fellow
Project Dates:
Start: 2010
End: 2012
Data Source(s): Panel Data
Methods: Standard Regression and Survival Analysis Techniques
Geographic Location(s): Egypt

In many societies, the formation of marital unions requires considerable resources. In Egypt, young people and their families must save for years to afford the real estate, jewelry, furniture, appliances, and celebrations required for marriage. The high cost of marriage is linked to three important transformations in marriage behavior in Egypt: the rising age at first marriage for young men, greater female contributions to marriage expenses, and the emergence of secret marital unions. The purpose of this study is to investigate the consequences of these changes for Egypt’s economic development, particularly implications for women’s employment and for socioeconomic and gender inequalities. The study argues that the need to finance marriage is a major factor driving women’s pursuit of wage work in Egypt. The researcher analyzed individual-level survey data using the 2006 Egypt Labor Market Panel Survey along with semi-formal interviews with engaged couples in Cairo and Al-Minya. Results show that matrimonial transactions are crucial in establishing the social status of the young couple, and these transactions reinforce gender ideals of the grooms being ready to take on the masculine role of provider. However, results also show that women’s marriage payments do not give them a bargaining advantage, nor do women’s earnings enhance their power in relation to their husbands.

Research Outputs:
Salem, Rania. (2011). Women’s Economic Resources and Bargaining in Marriage: Does Egyptian Women’s Status Depend on Earnings or Marriage Payments? Population Council Gender and Work in the MENA Region, (18).

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