Marriage traditions and investment in education: The case of bride kidnapping

Marriage traditions and investment in education: The case of bride kidnapping


Bazarkulova, D., & Compton, J. in Journal of Comparative Economics

Abstract: The cultural practice of bride kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan may alter the returns to education for young women in an ambiguous direction due to two competing effects. On the one hand, women facing a risk of kidnapping may reduce education investment due to uncertain returns. Alternatively, since kidnapping is less likely to occur while a woman is in school, women may increase education investment to lower their personal risk of being kidnapped into marriage. Understanding how education is affected by kidnapping risk allows us to better anticipate changes in education when the laws are enforced and the risk declines. We develop a two-period utility model to highlight the effects of kidnapping risk on education and to help identify those girls who are most likely to increase their education when faced with positive regional kidnapping risk and thus most likely to reduce education if the risk is eliminated. We test the implications of the theory empirically using the Life in Kyrgyzstan data. Difference-in-difference regression results point to a negative relationship between regional kidnapping rates and education, suggesting that the elimination of kidnapping is likely to induce higher education rates of women in Kyrgyzstan. The results are informative to the literature at the intersection of marriage traditions, women’s bargaining power and education attainment.

Publication Overview

Topic/s , ,
DOI Link (opens in a new tab)
Cit. Bazarkulova, D., & Compton, J. (2020). Marriage traditions and investment in education: The case of bride kidnapping. Journal of Comparative Economics.

Continue Reading:

  • How marriages based on bride capture differ: Evidence from Kyrgyzstan

    A significant proportion of women in the Kyrgyz Republic marry via ala kachuu, generally translated as bride capture or kidnapping. Many regard this practice as harmless elopement or a tradition; others perceive it as a form of forced marriage. This paper contributes to the understanding of ala kachuu by exploring the extent to which couples in these marriages differ from those in arranged or love marriages. This paper provides a novel source of evidence on the possible nonconsensual nature of bride capture in Kyrgyzstan, adding further weight to those arguing that it is forced. … read more »

  • Employment Vulnerability, Wages, and Subjective Well-Being in Kyrgyzstan

    The results of this study indicate that employment vulnerability results in lower earnings, negatively affecting the well-being of workers in Kyrgyzstan, and that these effects are worse for women. … read more »