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Shreyasee Das on the marriage market consequences of the Bhopal Gas Disaster

WIDER Seminar Series

This seminar has been postponed - a new date will be announced soon.

Shreyasee Das will present at the WIDER Seminar Series on 30 June 2022.

Hidden costs of industrial disasters: Marriage market consequences of the Bhopal Gas Disaster


Industrial disasters, such as chemical leaks and oil spills, could bring large-scale destruction to the affected region with devastating effects on individual health, livelihood, and the environment. Literature thus far has focused on the impact of these disasters on human capital formation. However, there is very little we know about how these specific disasters affect other demographic outcomes such as household formation. In this paper, we examine the marriage market consequences of the 1984 Bhopal Gas Disaster in India. The gas leak resulted in a death toll of over 3000 people and affected over 500,000 people. Residents in the region continue to face adverse health effects from the toxic gas leak, including drinking polluted water and waiting for toxic waste clean-up. The health shocks from the gas leak and resulting education and employment losses could make the marriage market more competitive, rendering it harder for individuals to find a spousal match. Using the 2015-16 National Family and Health Survey and a difference-in-difference strategy, we find that the Bhopal Gas Disaster reduced marriage rates of men and increased the age at marriage for those men who were able to get married. The results are driven by the adverse health and employment outcomes of men exposed to the disaster. Our results show the need for careful introspection of industrial disasters beyond the health effects.

About the speaker

Dr. Shreyasee Das is an Instructional Assistant Professor at Temple University. She is also an affiliated faculty with the Global Studies Program and the Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies Program at Temple University. She holds a Ph.D. in Economics, an M.A. in Economics, and a B.Sc. in Economics, all from the University of Houston. Prior to joining Temple University, she was an Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Her main teaching and research interests are in the fields of gender and development economics, with a regional focus on India. Some of her current work examines household formation and marriage market outcomes in the context of both natural and industrial disasters. Other research includes examining the relationship between women’s property rights and their empowerment, and how water allocation rules can impact various economic outcomes.

WIDER Seminar Series

The WIDER Seminar Series showcases the latest research on key topics in development economics. It provides a forum for for visiting scholars, UNU-WIDER researchers, external researchers, policymakers and industry specialists to present their research.

In addition to providing a forum for both academic debate and training, the series presents an opportunity for policymakers and others interested in development to learn about the latest research methods and findings.

The WIDER Seminar Series events take place on Wednesdays. All those interested are invited to register and attend via Zoom.