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University of Toronto St. George

SOCB49 Lecture 3 Economies of Courtship: Gender, Class and Matrimonial Transactions in Egypt Vignette One: Frustrated Love Randa & Elwan: Engagement broken off because of their inability to finance the establishment and maintenance of a new household (from the Naguib Mahfouz novella The Day the Leader Was Killed, 1989).  Pressure of economy  Randa ends up marrying her boss, ex fiancé kills boss and pres is murdered (2 plots intertwine) Vignette Two: Love Postponed Zeinab & Muhammad: Engaged for six years while they saved up to afford the goods necessary for a respectable marriage (interviewed in Minya, southern Egypt, in 2010).  The bride was old in age (31) for an unmarried Egyptian woman  Grooms father was burdened w/ wedding expenses from 2 daughters Vignette Three: Forbidden Love Usama & Shaimaa: Entered into a secret marriage when his parents, who he depends on for his livelihood, objected to the match because she was divorced (interviewed in Cairo, northern Egypt, in 2012). Topic: The Economic Foundations of Family Formation What are the causes and consequences of the high costs of marriage in contemporary Egypt? Definition of Term Defining the “costs of marriage”:  Who? Incurred by brides, grooms, and their families.  What? Expenditures on housing, furniture, appliances, jewelry, celebrations, etc o “Bride wealth” works opposite of dowry (Muslim), money given from groom to bride as her property for her to use to buy linens, china …  When? During courtship and engagement.  Where? Contemporary Egypt.  How? Customs govern who pays for what, but the level and timing of expenditures are negotiated by brides, grooms, and their families.  Why? To symbolically mark a new life-stage and the new relationships that come with it. To prepare the newlyweds to set up a new family. Outline of Today’s Talk: Research Questions Addressed SOCB49 1) How, why, and with what effect have the costs of marriage changed over time? 2) How do high marriage costs affect marriage timing today? 3) Do women benefit from high marriage payments today? 4) Why do people today insist on such high marriage costs? 5) Are high marriage costs causing couples today to seek alternative kinds of sexual unions? The Egyptian Context: Introduction  NE corner of African continent The Egyptian Context: Marriage  For most Egyptians, marriage is the only pathway to residential independence and sexual activity o Sexual activity outside of marriage is frowned upon  “Love” versus “arranged” marriages o When asked how they met their partner, they said institutional workplace o Most marriages in past were arranged  Relied on family to find someone for them  Marriage stages for Muslims: engagement, signing of the marriage contract, marriage o Engagement period was to fall in love  If you didn’t, engagement would be called off  Very fluid, can exit and enter o Marriage contract singing is part and parcel as part of the engagement  Kind of an extension of the engagement, needs to have ceremony  Marriage stages for Christians: engagement, marriage o Do not have the same contract The Egyptian Context: Economy & Labor Market  The previous generation benefitted from a government employment guarantee  Today’s young people are entering a labor market where unemployment is high, jobs are informal, and wages are low o 2006, 69% of people earning wages fell below the poverty line  Compared to other age groups, youth are more likely to be unemployed and to have low wages  While unmarried youth have no children to support, they (particularly young men) have to finance their own marriages How Have the Costs of Marriage Changed Over Time? Figure 1. Mean Total Cost of Marriage (Including Dower) in 2006 Egyptian Pounds Across Five-Year Marriage Cohorts, Ever-Married Women Aged 16-49, ELMPS 2006 SOCB49  Asked woman how much they spent on marriage cost (celebration, house, bride wealth…)  1985 – 1989 decrease in marriage  1995 – 2006 avg cost if $700 Among Which Groups Have the Costs of Marriage Changed Over Time? Figure 2. Mean Total Cost of Marriage (Excluding Dower) in 2006 Egyptian Pounds Across Five-Year Marriage Cohorts by Wealth, Ever-Married Women Aged 16-49, ELMPS 2006 Possible Explanations for the Rise and Fall of Marriage Costs  Family nucleation o Extended families are the norms  Multigenerational  Extended families are made up of several nuclear families SOCB49  Will all live under the same house o Shift from nuclear to extended, cost rises  Changing consumption standards o From rural to urban areas  Employment patterns o Men to earn a better living have diminished  Less able to afford everything they would like to purchase for their martial homes Possible Consequences of the Rise and Fall of Marriage Costs  Delayed marriage o As marriage cost rise, delay gets longer b/c it takes longer to save up  Never marriage o High cost of marriage may result in never marrying  Secret marriage Recap of Research Question One 1) How have the costs of marriage changed over time?  Marriage costs increased from the early 1970s to the early 1980s.  After 1985, marriage costs declined dramatically.  This pattern of a rise and decline in marriage costs was most pronounced for the middle and upper classes.  Marriage costs for the poor dropped steadily over this period.  In Northern India, dowry only came around in 1930s and has been rising Recap of Research Question One (cont’d) 1) Why have the costs of marriage changed over time?  Nuclear families have become more and more common over time, so family nucleation cannot explain the trend of rising then declining marriage costs.   Little is known about consumption standards, but it is likely that couples see more and more goods as ‘necessary’ for married life.  o Little evidence  Men’s migration opportunities have diminished since the early 1990s, and this may have driven lower spending on marriage.  Recap of Research Question One (cont’d) 1) With what effect have the costs of marriage changed over time?  Women and men (to a lesser extent) have been marrying later and later over time. Rising then falling marriage costs do not appear to have impacted marriage timing over time.   Very few Egyptians never marry, and never-marriage does not appear to be affected by trends in marriage costs.   Little is known about how rates of secret marriage have changed over time. SOCB49 For Which Groups Are Marriage Costs Most Burdensome at Present? Figure 3. Months of Savings Needed to Finance Marriage Costs for Brides and Grooms Married in 1990 or Later, Based on Monthly Salary Reported by the Bride or Groom in 2006 and Contribution to the Cost of Marriage Reported by the Bride, ELMPS 2006 How Do Labor Market Experiences Affect Men’s Marriage Timing? SOCB49  First survey 1998, second was 2006, same respondents  Selected people in 1998 who were not married, also looked at employment experience  In 2006, whether they got married and at what age  Looked at 4 preidtors of marriage timing o Never and ever worked o 1998 unmarried: out of labour force, unemployed, employed o Working in public sector or private sector (informal workers w/ unstable jobs) o Measure of job quality (unsatable/stable, wage…)  Results for men o Ever worked: hazard of marriage is 13x higher than people that had never worked o Men who were employed were 59% more likely to get married o 79% less likely to marry working in public sector o Good jobs 27% more likely to marry  Men o Worked, employed, public sector, good quality job  more likely to marry and married earlier How Do Labor Market Experiences Affect Women’s Marriage Timing? Women’s marriage timing is unaffected by their labor market experiences.  Bars are equal What Explains Gender Differences in the Determinants of Marriage Timing? Two factors may explain why men’s marriage timing is more sensitive to labor market experiences than women’s:  First, grooms shoulder most of the costs associated with a new union, and they SOCB49 therefore must be able to afford their share of marriage expenditures. o Grooms pay 60% of marriage costs  Second, cultural expectations dictate that husbands should be the breadwinners for their househ
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