Bride Price: A Comprehensive Overview

Bride price, also known as bridal dowry or marriage payment, is a customary and often complex practice that is a dominant feature of many societies around the world. This article provides an overview of bride price, including its definition, origins, and implications.


Bride price is typically defined as a payment made by the groom or his family to the bride’s family in exchange for marriage. The amount of the bride price can range from a symbolic sum of money or goods to a substantial amount of money, livestock, or land (Crocker, 2020). Bride price is distinct from dowry, which is a payment made by the bride‚Äôs family to the groom or his family.


It is difficult to trace the origins of bride price, due to the fact that it is practiced in various forms in many parts of the world. However, it is believed to have originated in ancient societies, as a way to compensate the bride’s family for the loss of her labor, and to demonstrate the groom’s ability to support his new family (Ogutu, 2016).


Bride price has been linked to a number of negative outcomes. It has been associated with higher levels of gender inequality and a greater likelihood of intimate partner violence (Baker & Meekers, 2019). The practice has also been criticized for exacerbating poverty, particularly in areas where bride price amounts are high relative to local incomes (Kwesigabo, 2015). In addition, it has been linked to a range of health problems, including depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem (Simmons & Yount, 2016).


Bride price is an enduring and complex practice that is found in many societies around the world. It has been linked to a range of negative outcomes, including gender inequality, intimate partner violence, poverty, and health problems. Further research is needed to better understand the implications of this practice and to identify strategies for mitigating its negative impacts.


Baker, M., & Meekers, D. (2019). Intimate partner violence and bride price in Sub-Saharan Africa: A systematic review of the literature. Violence Against Women, 25(3), 313-335.

Crocker, J. (2020). Bride price. In Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved from

Kwesigabo, G. (2015). Bride price and poverty: Evidence from Uganda. World Development, 74, 22-32.

Ogutu, L. (2016). Bride price and property rights in Africa: An overview. Africa Review, 8(2), 65-75.

Simmons, C., & Yount, K. (2016). Bride price and the health of young married women in Ethiopia. Studies in Family Planning, 47(2), 131-142.

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