This article is from WeChat official account:Zhibenshe (ID: zhibenshe0-1) , author: SD president, original title: “Economics talk about” price bride price “,” title figure from: vision China

The bride price is discussed by public opinion every three times. Recently, “high-priced bridesmaid”, “Jiangxi bridesmaid”, and “beautiful gift loans” have rushed into hot searches, adding another fire to social anxiety and adding some worries to some young people who are entering the marriageable age.

Some people say that China has long banned the buying and selling of marriages. The bride price is a bad marriage practice involving money transactions and includes discrimination against women in marriage. It is also said that the bride price is a kind of etiquette, the etiquette for the inheritance of Chinese marriage culture. Others say that the sky-high price of gifts is an inflationary phenomenon.

This article analyzes the bride price and marriage from the perspective of economics.

The logic of this article:

1. Marriage and risk

2. Gifts and Investment

3. Behavior and price

1. Marriage and risk

Marriage is an anti-risk system.

Whether it is a primitive ethnic group, a farming society, or a modern society, people will make a common choice when they reach a certain age, and that is to get married. Whether you are Europeans, Americans or Orientals, you will enter the palace of marriage when you reach the age of marriage.

Why is this?

Is it a physiological drive or an economic behavior? Economists believe that marriage is an economic behavior. The factors considered in economic behavior include benefits, costs and risks. People living in this world must have certain risks. There are risks of reproduction, economic risks, and survival risks. A common path for mankind to confront risks is collective action to form efficient organizations, such as primitive ethnic groups, clan clans, city-state alliances, religious groups, modern countries, corporate organizations, and so on. These organizations can fight economic and survival risks, but they cannot solve the problem of reproduction. To multiply, the two sexes need to cooperate and act together, so there is a marriage system, and a family organization is formed in the marriage system.

I was in “Home, Will It Disappear?” This question was raised in the article: Why use a marriage system instead of a company-like employment system or partnership system? The main consideration is to fight against the risk of reproduction. Marriage will give birth to a by-product (profit), that is the child. The family organization above the marriage system is the best organization for raising children.

There are different marriage systems in human history, but their purpose is to combat risks. Primitive ethnic groups have adopted a group marriage system, in which one ethnic group intermarries with another ethnic group. This kind of marriage system does not form a family organization, but it can avoid promiscuity and incest leading to ethnic extinction. At the time, mating was a high-risk job. In order to prevent the enemy’s sneak attack, the mating of the two races is under militarized control, and the location is as hidden as possible, striving to resolve the battle quickly. In nature, animals with weaker combat effectiveness have lower mating time and frequency.

Agricultural society generally adopts a system of polygamy and multiple concubines, and there is a whole set of marriage systems to control risks. Multiple concubines are an unequal system that maintains multiple births in a patriarchal society. Lowering the marriageable age and giving birth earlier are for the purpose of reproducing more quickly.

Family is also the most important economic organization for agricultural production in the farming era. The economic meaning of starting a family is to establish an economic organization to improve output efficiency. The first is the increase in the number of labor (wife); then the family is an effective organization, planning management and the division of labor between men and women produce efficiency; finally, the cost of reproducing offspring The model expands investment expectations and cycles.

In modern society, marriage has become a free market. Love, marriage and divorce are all personal freedoms. Free marriage is more risky than traditional marriage, but it is also more efficient. On the whole, it is more efficient. However, with the continuous advancement of technology and systems, people’s life span is getting longer, and people’s economic independence is getting stronger and stronger. The family is no longer the most effective economic organization, but instead is the enterprise organization. The more economically independent people are, the less eager to get married, and they can obtain sufficient financial security in the corporate organization. The age of marriage continues to move back, and the number of late-married and non-married groups is expanding.

The role of marriage against risk is getting weaker and weaker, and it seems that only the function of reproducing offspring is left. Considering the cost of childbirth and the cost of marriage, many people choose not to marry or to have no or few births. In this way, in modern society, the marriage system and family organization have gradually lost economic efficiency and social competitiveness. This is the main reason for the current depression of marriages, prosperous derailments, fertility cliffs, and prosperity of singles.

So, the survival style of modern societyRisks and economic risks have been resolved by state organizations, corporate organizations, etc., and the role of marriage institutions and family organizations in resisting risks has declined, and marriage seems to have become the biggest risk. Just as when a business encounters risks, you hope to bring in investors to resist the risks together. However, the introduction of investors is also risky. You don’t know which investor is suitable, how much capital is suitable, how much equity and decision-making power you need to give up, and so on.

Marriage also has risks, which can be summed up in three parts: one is the risk of asymmetric information; the other is the economic cost and opportunity cost of marriage; the third is the risk of default, including economic loss, emotional injury, and so on.

In a vast world and a vast sea of ​​people, I don’t know which one is the love of your life. Everyone has limited information when looking for objects. To expand the scope and intensity of the search, it is necessary to pay more information costs, that is, transaction costs. In ancient times, the cost of information was higher, and family-to-person matchmaking, matchmaking, and arranged marriages were all aimed at reducing transaction costs and marriage risks. In the modern free marriage market, people also make marginal choices with limited information and limited transaction costs. The person who was looking for was the person with the lowest marginal cost and the highest marginal utility at that time.

When looking for a significant other, lovers who are passionate about it will tell each other that you are the most loved woman/man in my life. Is this true or false? At least at the time, the high probability was true. Under the constraints of limited information and limited transaction costs at that time, you were the one with the lowest marginal cost and the highest marginal utility. Over the years, the scope of activities will expand, life experience will increase, and information sources will be more extensive. At the same time, economic income will increase and the transaction costs that can be paid are higher. At this time, you may encounter the second “loved person in your life”. In the same way, the gift is the same Tiffany necklace. Time has changed, things are different, and the one with the lowest marginal cost and the highest marginal utility is replaced by another person. Is this scumbag? Therefore, the higher the economic income, the higher the frequency of business trips, and the greater the rate of derailment and divorce.

This is the uncertainty risk of marriage. This risk comes from the marginal decision-making under the constraint of information asymmetry. Marginal cost and marginal utility change over time. If the skill level (how couples get along) does not change, the marginal emotions will follow Time shifts and decreases. Therefore, the biggest test of marriage is time, and we should be “friends of time”.

If a divorce is a breach of contract, the cost of marriage may be very high. Both spouses will calculate their respective gains and losses when they come to the intersection of the divorce, and try their best to recover the investment losses in this failed marriage. The financial account of a spouse’s dissolution is more difficult to calculate than a company’s dissolution.If the wife is a full-time housewife, she has been raising children and caring for her parents-in-law for ten years without creating a penny of monetary income, which is prone to disputes. More difficult to calculate than the economic account is the emotional account, the custody of the child and the opportunity cost paid by both parties.

In contrast, the opportunity cost of women is greater than that of men. The most effective age for women is in their 20s, mainly in terms of appearance, figure, and fertility; the most effective age for men is in their 30s to 40s, mainly in terms of knowledge, experience, and economic conditions. In their 20s, women of the same age have stronger bargaining power in the marriage market than men of the same age. Although there are more and more modern independent women, women’s economic excellence is constantly replacing the diminishing margins caused by the decline in appearance, but the price curve has not undergone a fundamental change. Young women tend to choose men who are a few years older than themselves to increase matching. For couples of the same age and similar age, the family status of men is easily suppressed by women when they are young, but as time goes by, men are more likely to come from behind. If divorce after the age of 35, women of the same age have weaker bargaining power in the marriage and love market than men of the same age. Therefore, marriage laws in European and American countries tend to take care of women.

There are costs before and after marriage. The bride price discussed today is the direct cost of marriage. This high cost is becoming a problem for young people’s marriage.

Second, gift and investment

The bride price is also called the dowry gift, wealth gift, and gift money. When the marriage agreement is initially reached, it is usually the bride price and dowry gift presented by the man’s family to the woman’s family.

The bride price is a direct cost of marriage, but it is also an investment.

According to the above analysis, marriage is an anti-risk system. In addition to fighting the risk, not only the people (both men and women), but also the money (beautiful gift Etc.). This is like two people forming a business in partnership to reduce risk. Two people contribute together, each of whom contributes 1 million. This is the direct cost of the partnership and an investment, that is, the original start-up capital. The original funds may be used to purchase equipment, lease offices, hire employees, entertain guests, etc.

When a man and a woman get married and form a new family, it is like a partnership to start a new company, which requires a sum of investment. The funds are used for wedding banquets, purchase of wedding rooms, purchase of daily furniture, purchase of dowry, wedding banquets for the woman, and advance payment to the woman’s parentsPension, etc.

In the farming era, wedding banquets and purchasing furniture for daily use are consumption and investment. In the closed environment in ancient times, people lived in a differential order, and family credit was the foundation of survival. The ancient countryside was not a currency economy, and materials were scarce, and exchanges were difficult. Borrowing and credit guarantees were the main exchange methods, such as borrowing work. Credit is related to this person’s local survival situation.

How to strengthen credit? There are generally three ways: one is adult haircut, family and career, and gold list title. First of all, when they reach adulthood, men are crowned with gifts and women are presented with gifts, and personal credit begins to emerge. After the coming-of-age ceremony, there will be marriage qualifications. Marriage and marriage means the transition of personal credit to family credit. The title of the gold list is the official credit.

Why can you improve your credit by getting married and having a family? 1. Getting married and starting a family means the initial recognition of personal abilities and credit by both men and women, clan relatives and friends; 2. The new family has assets, and the larger the scale of assets, the higher the credit of the family; 3. The organization of the family is efficient and the division of labor between men and women Cooperation can increase the ability to resist risks; Fourth, the family is a binding organization, each role has responsibilities and tasks, making people more responsible and harder; Fifth, the family has sunk costs, which not only include capital, but also Including children, the higher the sunk cost, the stronger the reliability.

So, the more family assets you buy, such as real estate, furniture, daily necessities, etc., the higher the family’s creditworthiness. Wedding banquets are an important way for new families to increase their credit value. Generally, the larger the scale of the banquet, the more people admire the face, which means that the family has more status in the local area. In the past, weddings and funerals in rural areas were organized as much as possible. The bigger the face, the more credible it felt. This is like banqueting relatives, friends, customers, and suppliers in luxury hotels when the company opens and moves to release a stronger credit signal to the outside world. The wedding banquet promotes the intergenerational inheritance of family credit. Generally, the family credit of parents and clan members is passed on to the new family formed by the new couple.

Therefore, the higher the one-time input cost of wedding banquets, real estate, furniture, etc., the greater the sunk cost, and the more restrictive; the greater the credit guarantees of parents and clan relatives, the stronger the family credit of the new couple. Help to improve the economic and social utility of the new family.

An important credit investment is the lottery. The bride price is generally used to buy dowry, the woman’s wedding banquet, and to pay the woman’s parents’ pension in advance.

The large scale of the gift shows that the man’s family is economically strong and can establish a certain degree of credibility in the local and the woman’s family. Complementing the bride price is the dowry. After receiving the dowry, the woman’s family will give out a certain amount of property to give a rebate. The ancient dowry has strict category regulations and meanings. The current dowry may be clothes, furniture, daily necessities, accessories, gold, vehicles, Real estate, etc.

The dowry has two functions: one is etiquette, the more the dowry, the richer the ceremony, and the better the meaning; the second is the asset credit, the more the dowry, the more valuable it represents the more credit assets of the new couple’s family, which can resist risks The stronger the ability.

The question is, how much dowry is appropriate for the rebate? This troubles many newcomers, especially brides. It is generally determined by the two parties based on local customs. Nowadays, some places and families have more dowries than dowries, but in ancient times, the dowries generally did not exceed the dowries, and the wife’s family would not give them all back, but would leave some dowries. why?

In ancient times, women’s homes left a part of the bride price, which was mainly used for the wedding banquet of the woman’s wedding and to pay the woman’s parents’ pension in advance. The woman’s family also needs to maintain family credit. In ancient times, the marriage of a daughter meant the loss of labor and the loss of family assets. In order to maintain the family’s local credit as much as possible, the woman’s family usually leaves some gifts. Use part of it to host a wedding banquet to show that the family is still alive, and also show that the daughter is married to a powerful family. Of course, most ordinary families in ancient times had meager dowry and dowry, and the woman’s family could only manage the wedding simply or not, and “secretly” get married.

The woman’s family will also leave a portion of the bride price as a pension. According to ancient customs, a daughter cannot inherit the family’s inheritance after she gets married, and she no longer assumes the duty of raising parents and is responsible for serving her husband’s parents. The woman’s parents choose to collect their daughter’s pension in a lump sum when the daughter is married, and this pension is paid by the man’s family as a gift. If the woman’s parents have a son, this pension will be converted into a gift for the son to marry his wife. This is equivalent to exchanging a pension for a daughter, and then using the pension to marry a daughter-in-law to provide for the elderly. This sounds awkward and uncomfortable.

If the man gave a lot of gifts, but the woman’s parents “trapped” most of it as a pension, and the dowry in rebate was very small, the man’s family would feel “lost.” Therefore, in this marriage system, the man’s family bears all currency risks. When the price of the bride price rises, the pressure for men to get married will increase. And women have become victims of “tradable”.

In this kind of marriage system, the direct cost of marriage is not the joint funding of the man and the woman, at least not the joint monetary funds. In the farming era, the partnership model of marriage was that the man’s family paid for the money and the woman’s family was born. It is like a partnership between two people to start a company, one pays money and shares shares according to capital; the other contributes money and shares shares according to technology. Why is the man paying? In the ancient farming society, men were the main force in wealth creation, and women’s contribution and sacrifice in fertility were greater. Men participate in competition through the payment of gifts, and women participate in competition through beauty, figure and fertility. At the time, the man gaveMoney is a common mode of cooperation.

However, this partnership model may cause problems if it is not restricted. Investing shareholders invested in equipment, leased offices, and paid a large amount of sunk costs. However, the contributing shareholders are not restricted in this regard. Investing shareholders worry that the contributing shareholders do not work and do not work hard, which will cause the money invested to be in vain. Of course, the contributing shareholders will also worry that the contributing shareholders will give up halfway.

At this time, they will negotiate together, reach a consensus, and establish some binding systems and incentive policies. For example, during the cooperation period, the contributing shareholders cannot withdraw, and the contributing shareholders cannot draw capital. However, in general, there are more constraints on contributing shareholders. Because the shareholders who contributed capital have invested a lot of sunk costs, sunk costs themselves are a kind of credit and restraint.

This is the employer’s employment logic for labor. The ancient marriage relationship is more like this kind of employment relationship. In ancient society, the man’s family had to bear all the financial expenses of the marriage and pay the bride price at one time, which was equivalent to unilaterally assuming all the sunk costs and currency risks. In order to reduce risks and increase the rate of return, men are more motivated than women to establish a restrictive marriage system. Similar to a partnership, the contributors will have more constraints on the contributors, and men have much greater constraints on women.

Because men have the power to make social rules, their restraint on women goes far beyond the economic scope. For example, the woman can’t go back to her natal family often, can’t take a lot of money back to her natal family, and be filial to the elderly and have children in her husband’s family. The man has the right to divorce his wife, and the woman commits adultery by “dipping into the pig cage.” The more work a woman does in her husband’s house and the more boys he has, the higher the return on the investment of the man’s house. In this way, the marriage system turns the original employment relationship into an unequal and cruel vassal relationship.

Therefore, the bride price is a cost for the newlyweds to get married, and it is also an investment for the newlyweds’ families. Ancient society had a set of systems and customs to manage the risks and returns of this investment.

However, in modern society, this system and customs are falling apart, and the risk of marriage is “overflowing.” When the price of the bride price rises, the man’s risk magnifies.

Three, behavior and price

Under the modern marriage system, the relationship between husband and wife is equal, and the man cannot only restrain the woman and let himself go. The woman also has to bear the pension obligations of her parents. A wedding is a ceremony to obtain happiness and blessings. The rules of marriage have changed, but the economic behavior of marriage has not changed.

Many places in China still inherit the custom of bride price and dowry. The bride price is still given by the man, and the dowry is still given by the woman. There is no standard for the bride price, and the dowry is also varied. There are more bridesmaids and more dowries, which vary from person to person and from family to family. Today, there may be a hundred different rituals, rules and prices for the betrothal gifts of one hundred households. This creates a variety of different situations. Some people’s risk of getting married is reduced, while some people’s risk is difficult to control.

Some places and some families have more dowries than dowries. The woman’s family will give back part of the property together with the betrothal gift. Some women’s families buy large amounts of gold jewelry for their daughters, buying cars and real estate as a “dowry.” This is equivalent to both men and women co-financing and co-financing, sharing currency risks. This funding model matches the modern marriage system. The sharing of currency risks is economically fair, which corresponds to the equal personality of men and women in the modern marriage system.

In some places, some families have inherited the past habits, dowry is less than dowry, and the man bears all currency risks. Under the modern marriage system, the man cannot unilaterally restrain the woman. This is equivalent to the shareholders who contribute capital and cannot restrict the shareholders who contribute. If the contributing shareholders do not work hard, or even start small businesses outside, the shareholders who contribute capital are at great risk.

However, this cannot be said that the man’s currency risk is uncontrollable. If the amount of the dowry is not large, the proportion of the dowry rebate is high, and the man’s risk is relatively small. If the woman’s income is high, the two parties will have a stronger ability to resist risks when forming a new family, and the man’s rate of return on investment will increase. However, compared with women in the farming era, modern women are much stronger in cultural knowledge, wealth creation and practical ability. If the price of the bride price is high and the dowry rebate is small, the man’s risk will be magnified. At this time, the man may prefer women with high incomes and good family conditions.

However, women’s families with high economic incomes and families in economically developed areas often require fewer gifts or even more dowries in rebate. why is that?

In economically backward areas, the family’s economic strength is weak, the concept is relatively conservative, and more of the marriage customs of the farming era are inherited. Some women’s parents have low incomes and do not have social security. If their daughters are married, old-age care may be a problem. Although the modern marriage system requires daughters to also have the obligation to support their parents, some parents only accept their sons in their hearts, and are unwilling to take care of their sons-in-law’s homes, and are unwilling to ask their daughters for living expenses. Nowadays, many families with only-children have failed to “raise children to prevent old age”. Parents with this mentality are more anxious and eager to have a pension. At the same time, in this kind of family, the patriarchal color is strong, and the daughter usually has no say. Therefore, their practice tends to collect their daughter’s pension in one lump sum in the farming era.

This phenomenon still exists in some backward areas. The parents of both parties meet for the first time to reach a marriage contract. The man pays hundreds of thousands of gifts or makes an IOU, and the woman can be picked up on the same day. There is no dowry, wedding, and no ceremony at the woman’s house. The woman’s parents receive all the gifts to be used for the elderly, or to give the son a wedding as a gifts. The female party does not have any right to speak, and her parents will try to instill traditional concepts into her and set a condition similar to the ancient marriage system to reduce the risk of the man’s currency investment.

On the contrary, in economically developed areas, where family income is high, the woman’s parents do not need their daughters to pay pensions. At the same time, they still have financial conditions to support their daughter’s new family, inject more currency, real estate, gold, cars, etc., to improve the newcomer’s family’s ability to resist risks.

Under the ancient marriage system, parents with good financial conditions would also add “bargaining chips” to their daughters. Although the woman’s family is not a currency contributor, she should also guard against the risk of the man breaking the contract at will. The wealthy woman’s family will buy more dowry for her daughter, including some fields. This is equivalent to dividing part of the family property to the daughter. For a woman’s family, more dowry can improve the asset credit of the new couple’s family, and more importantly, it can improve the daughter’s position in the husband’s family and reduce the risk of a strong man breaking the contract. According to the ancient marriage system, the dowry property is the woman’s private property. If the man’s family breaks the contract, the woman still has this asset as economic support. This is like in order to reduce the risk of a sudden withdrawal of capital by shareholders who contribute capital, and shareholders who contribute to buy social insurance for themselves every month to provide protection for unemployment and old-age pensions.

Under the modern marriage system, women do not need to worry about this. However, some financially strong parents are still willing to provide their daughters with a pre-marital property. This money belongs to the woman’s private property, it has the meaning of inherited property, and it also has the effect of resisting the risk of divorce.

Of course, it may not be that the girl’s parents are in an intermediate state. They may not need too much gift money to make the new couple’s family less burdened. Daughters and son-in-laws can easily go into battle to make more money, and even help their daughters with their children and live with their daughters. There are also some women’s parents who weigh their daughter’s dowry and their own pension when allocating the dowry. If the pressure on the elderly is greater and they do not want to increase the burden on their daughters, they may leave more gifts as a pension. If you are worried about your daughter’s life pressure, you may use some wedding gifts as a dowry.

According to this calculation, young men should come to economically developed areas (Guangdong) to find targets, while the supply of women in economically backward areas exceeds demand. The price of the bride price has naturally fallen. However, this does not conform to the nature of supply and demand in the marriage market. As mentioned earlier,In the case of the same emotional conditions, the main needs of young women for men are knowledge, experience and economic conditions, while the main needs of young men for women are not economic. At present, there is very little matching ratio between rich women and poor men in Chinese society. This is determined by the physical characteristics of men and women and their wealth creation capabilities.

The most important thing is that the marriage market is similar to a risky market, and there is a certain amount of adverse selection(adverse selection is not a market failure, but a market manifestation). We say that banks only send charcoal in a hurry, never icing on the cake. The larger the scale of the enterprise, the more stable the operation, the more willing the bank is to lend, and the lower the interest rate. On the contrary, if a company can accept an interest rate price several times higher than the market, the bank will not dare to lend it. The same is true in the marriage market. The higher the economic conditions, the stronger the bargaining power of men, and the lower the bride price required by the wife’s family, or the more dowry is given back regardless of how many gifts. Men with poorer economic conditions have weaker bargaining power. Women’s families are worried about risks and demand more cash as credit guarantees and need to pay more gifts. Therefore, places with worse economic conditions and families with worse economic conditions need to pay more gifts.

Jiangxi and Guangdong are in sharp contrast. The male-female ratio of Jiangxi’s birth population is not out of balance, and is comparable to the national average. Jiangxi is a province with a large population of outflow, and the proportion of outflowing young men is also higher than that of young women. However, these two data do not explain the problem, but may be misleading. Many of the young women who have flowed out choose to marry outside, and few go home to get married. They tend to marry families in Guangdong and other regions. However, most of the young men who have flowed out actively or passively choose to return to their hometown in Jiangxi to get married. In this way, the number of marriageable men who choose to get married in Jiangxi is greater than that of women, the marriage market has become a women’s market, and the price of bride prices has continued to rise.

The price increase of the bride price is still an inflation phenomenon. How does the mass currency spread to the marriage market? Lottery loan is a direct way, but not the main way. The main way is real estate. The anchor of currency is real estate, and the anchor of real estate is the right to survive in the city, mainly the right to high-quality academic degrees and the right to choose a spouse. A huge amount of money flows to real estate, and the two major degree housing and marriage housing that just need support are rising. The anchor of China’s real estate industry is actually the mother-in-law, who speaks, marrying a daughter requires a marriage room, and grandchildren want a degree room for school. In this way, the cost of getting married and having a family has risen sharply. This is a cost transmission mechanism. The woman’s parents ask the man’s family to provide more gifts. They may use these gifts to support their daughter in buying a house, or their son to buy a house to get married, or buy themselves a house for the elderly. In the women’s market, rising house prices can easily drive up the price of the gift.

Of course, some parents have already jumped out of the concept of the bride price, requiring the man’s family or both parties to pay for the marriage house together to improve the couple’s family’s ability to resist risks. The house has become the biggest cost of marriage (investment). The faster housing prices rise, the higher the cost of marriage.

The above is the economic analysis of the bride price and marriage. May the friends in the world: “The phoenix is ​​flying, and its feathers are dying, and it will also gather and stop”(“Book of Songs·Daya·JuanA”) .

This article is from WeChat official account:Zhibenshe (ID: zhibenshe0-1) , author: SD president