I grew up reading about the evils of the dowry system. And decades of concerted government policies and NGO activism later, dowry still seems to still haunt many a marriage in Bangladesh. In fact, according to one study, prevalence of dowry has been consistently increading in rural Bangladesh — whereas merely a tenth of families paid a dowry before the 1970s, the proportion rose to three-fifths in the 1990s to over three-quarters in 2003.
Is there an economics literature on dowry, or marriage payments more generally? Siwan Anderson, a Canadian economist, has done much work on this field. Drawing heavily on her work, over the fold is my understanding of the literature.