June 4, 2014

What is the Difference Between a Bride Price and a Dowry?

Chinese bride courtesy of Wiki Commons
The terms bride price and dowry are often confused.  Bride price is actually the opposite of dowry.  Here's how it works:  A bride price (or bride wealth or bride token)  is paid by the groom to the bride's parents or family at the time of the marriage.   A dowry is money or property brought into the marriage by the bride.  The dowry is usually provided by the bride's parents. There's also a dower which is property settled on the bride herself by the groom.

In the Western world, both practices have largely been abandoned except in the case of a uniquely American system of dowry practiced by the wealthy (See my post (click here) ).  However, in some countries bride price or dowry are still is use today. Some countries practice both.  Bride price is common in rural China, many other Asian countries, parts of Africa and some Pacific Island societies.  Dowries are common for marriages in India and Pakistan.

References and additional reading:
http://www.jasonstaples.com/sociology/dowry-and-bride-price-are-not-the-same-thing/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bride_price
http://econ.sites.olt.ubc.ca/files/2013/05/pdf_paper_siwan-anderson-economics-dowry-brideprice.pdf

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