Despite the prohibition by the law in 1961, dowry is widely prevalent in India. Dowry stems from the early concept of ’Stridhana,’ in which gifts were given to the bride by her family to secure some personal wealth for her when she married. However, with the transition of time, the practice of dowry is becoming more common, and the demand for a higher dowry becomes a burden to the bride’s family. Therefore, this study aimed to determine the factors associated with the practice of dowry in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
We utilized information from 5206 married adolescent girls from the Understanding the lives of adolescents and young adults (UDAYA) project survey conducted in two Indian states, namely, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Dowry was the outcome variable of this study. Univariate, bivariate, and multivariate logistic regression analyses were performed to explore the factors associated with dowry payment during the marriage.
The study reveals that dowry is still prevalent in the state of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Also, the proportion of dowry varies by adolescent’s age at marriage, spousal education, and household socioeconomic status. The likelihood of paid dowry was 48 percent significantly less likely (OR: 0.52; CI: 0.44–0.61) among adolescents who knew their husbands before marriage compared to those who do not know their husbands before marriage. Adolescents with age at marriage more than equal to legal age had higher odds to pay dowry (OR: 1.60; CI: 1.14–2.14) than their counterparts. Adolescents with mother’s who had ten and above years of education, the likelihood of dowry was 33 percent less likely (OR: 0.67; CI: 0.45–0.98) than their counterparts. Adolescents belonging to the richest households (OR: 1.48; CI: 1.13–1.93) were more likely to make dowry payments than adolescents belonging to poor households.
Limitation of the dowry prohibition act is one of the causes of continued practices of dowry, but major causes are deeply rooted in the social and cultural customs, which cannot be changed only using laws. Our study suggests that only the socio-economic development of women will not protect her from the dowry system, however higher dowry payment is more likely among women from better socio-economic class.