I argue that dowries exist because of a combination of two reasons. First, there is an excess supply of women in the Indian marriage market that results in the use of dowry as an equilibrating mechanism. Secondly, a differential in the patterns of human capital accumulation of men and women have led to a larger positive benefit from marriage for women than for men, the net difference of which is theoretically equivalent to the amount of the dowry. Both these explanations for the existence of dowry are fundamentally grounded in the powerful social and cultural ideologies of marriage held by the vast majority of Indian society