It's Not a Joke, It's a Dowry

Althouse ponders a concept by parents to save money for a daughter -- but not sons -- to 'compensate for the wage gap.'

Conservatives tend to argue that the wage gap doesn't exist. At least for the elite of the youngest generation coming of age, it seems to be reversed. In fact, women tend to be better paid than men. But mostly these arguments turn on 'if you look at equal time in grade, experience, etc...' -- in other words, just the things that child-birth and child-rearing tend to disrupt -- 'then things are equal.'

But what if women often want to bear children, and drop time in grade?

The concept of the dowry was to pass wealth on with a daughter that would remain hers in the marriage. Traditionally, it was held in trust and must be returned to her undiminished if the marriage should end for some reason. That strikes me as substantially similar to the concept here. She'll bring the money to the marriage. If the marriage fails -- as marriages do much more often now -- the courts are likely to defend her claim to what she brought in as wealth. It will go with her and the children. And insofar as her time out of the workforce does diminish her 'time in grade' claim to wages, she'll have some wealth to offset that.

I don't think it's foolish at all. Irish, but not foolish.

1 comment:

jaed said...

If I understand dowries correctly, a daughter's dowry was her inheritance, which she received on her marriage and leaving her parent's household, rather than when the father died (as for sons).

The idea being that girls and boys would each receive shares, but the timing would be different because of the differing life patterns of daughters and sons in a patrilocal society.

So whether it's fair to the sons depends in large part on whether this means the married daughters aren't in the will (other than for such things as keepsakes), since they've already received their part of the inheritance.