Dowry a major cause of chronic poverty in Bangladesh

Washington, Oct 31: Dowry is one of the major causes of chronic poverty in Bangladesh, according to a new study from University of Bath.

The research found that those households with lower levels of education, that owned less land had fewer assets and had many young children,

Moreover, elderly relatives faced the most difficulty in escaping poverty.

Dowry payments of more than 200 times the daily wage and costly medical expenses are major causes of this chronic poverty.

Though dowry is illegal in Bangladesh, but is still practised by most families living in rural areas.

The payment is normally upwards from 20,000 Taka (around 190 pounds) and since typical earnings are only 100 Taka (94 pence) per day, this can be a major contributor to poverty for many families with daughters, say lead researcher Dr Peter Davis, of the Centre for Development Studies.

The researchers surveyed 2,000 households based in 102 rural villages across Bangladesh, that were originally interviewed between eight and 14 years ago, to assess the changes in poverty and well-being that occurred over time.

They found that almost half moved out of poverty during this time, but around one fifth remained chronically poor and a small percentage fell into poverty.

Medical expenses involved in the care of elderly relatives were also a common issue for families living in poverty.

"Some families face a 'double whammy', having to pay wedding expenses and dowry for their daughters at the same time in life when elderly relatives are needing more expensive medical care," said Davis.

Measures such as improving education, employment and health services could play a really significant role in alleviating poverty in these families.

"The government in Bangladesh has already taken positive steps in increasing the enrolment of girls in schools, which should decrease the practice of giving and demanding dowry," he added.

The findings were presented at a workshop in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Copyright Asian News International/