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‘Arranged’ marriages, characterized by strong parental control over mate choice, are the norm in India, although there is a steady transition towards autonomous ‘love’ marriages, especially within the urban middle class.

I construct a novel dataset by surveying 6,030 parents and adult children in Mumbai, India to study selection into arranged marriage and its effects on spouse choice. I consider the choice between an arranged and love marriage as the outcome of bargaining between parents and children, where agents have different preferences for spouse attributes.

I find that stronger financial and kinship ties between parents and sons increase the likelihood of an arranged marriage. Furthermore, when parents are involved in mate choice, sons are significantly less likely to marry college-educated women and women engaged in the labor force, after controlling for individual and family characteristics.

I show that these effects are driven, at least in part, by parental preferences and cannot entirely be attributed to correlation between arranged marriages and unobserved characteristics. These results suggest that lowering the incentive for parental control in mate choice may improve investments in women’s human capital in India.

Divya Mathur – Research

Interesting huh? Especially that last paragraph is a bit surprising, given the focus on Mumbai, which I would have thought would be that bit more progressive than other cities as it is India’s financial hub.

This is the synopsis of a research paper written by  Divya Mathur who is a PhD candidate for Economics at the University of Chicago. This is the full original paper, which makes interesting reading. I skimmed through it and its definitely worth coming back to in depth.

Lastly, a shout out to Tyler Cowen and the phenomenal economics blog Marginal Revolution for bringing this to my attention. If you have an inclination to keep up with one of the most internet friendly and sharp minds in economics, you need to read Marginal Revolution. It also helps if you have an appreciation of how bizarre the world can truly be.