Haggling over dowry

How much dowry can a woman expect to pay? How much can a man expect to receive? It depends on a lot of factors, including the language you speak at home, your caste, skin tone, age, horoscope, and family's social and economic status.

These factors affect brides and grooms differently. Over the years I have tried to understand how all these variables interplay. Fill in the blanks below with your information to see a distilled version of my understanding of this institution, which still confounds me.

I have brothers and sisters, and my family wealthy.

You can change your information to see how each factor increases or decreases your dowry, or sometimes affects it in more complex ways.

See groom data



Age: Under 25 years
Starting early has its advantages. You have a few more years before your parents start worrying about you. At your age, there is no urgency in getting married, and that is bargaining power in your favor when it comes to dowry negotiations. The groom is usually a couple of years older than the bride in Indian arranged marriages. At your age, it is going to be hard to find a bride younger than you and ready to get married. Lower your dowry expectations.
Height: Under 4'6"
It won't be hard to find a groom taller than you. The trick is finding someone who is not a lot taller than you. It comes down to preference. If you "settle" for someone on the shorter side, you might get a discount. It is going to be hard to find a bride shorter than you. Expect to forgo a large portion of your dowry.
Employment: Unemployed
Your future stay-at-home wife status would give you a lot of time to dedicate to household chores. But they don't have a monetary value associated with them. So pay up a larger amount to prove that you are not a freeloader. This is not going to fly. This is against the assigned gender roles. Try again after you get a job.
Education: Engineering
Engineering degrees are great. That should make it easy to find a groom. But if you studied abroad or went to an elite school like the Indian Institute of Technology, it might tip the scale against you. A groom just as smart as you, with an education as elite as yours, will cost you. Your engineering degree is going to go a long way in setting your market rate. Bring your negotiation A-game. Educated abroad? Went to an elite school? Does your resume mention MIT, Stanford or Harvard? (The rest of the Ivy League schools don't command the same respect in the dowry-rate-setting circles.) These are all bonus points that can boost your market rate.
Brothers: One or more
Having a brother is not good news for your dowry rates, especially if you are going to use your potential inheritance as a bargaining point. The brothers inherit the lion's share of your family wealth. Your inheritance will be shared between you and your brothers. Your slice of the pie is smaller. And that reflects on your dowry rate. You would have gotten more as the only son. If your brother is older than you, that is good news for your dowry rate. Firstborn sons have to take care of the family. You are free of such obligations.
Sisters: One or more
Younger sisters don't affect dowry. But an older sister sets the bar for your dowry. You should give at least the same amount in dowry as your sister did. You are expected to pitch in for your sister's dowry. Unmarried sisters are seen as a financial liability for you and will bring down your dowry rate.
Family: Wealthy
If your family is rich, you can surely afford to give a lot of dowry. It is a matter of pride for your family. A wealthy family could mean that the bride can enjoy material comforts and financial security. You can demand a large sum as dowry in exchange.