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.