London School of Economics EOPP: Economic Organisation and Public Policy Programme LSE
EOPP: Economic Organisation and Public Policy Programme

Current EOPP Research:
Marry for What? Caste and Mate Selection in Modern India

Maitreesh Ghatak (with Abhijit Banerjee, MIT, Esther Duflo, MIT and Jeanne Lafortune, Maryland)

Abstract:

This paper studies the role played by caste, education and other social and economic attributes in arranged marriages among middle-class Indians. The authors use a unique data set on individuals who placed matrimonial advertisements in a major newspaper, the responses they received, how they ranked them, and the eventual matches. They estimate the preferences for caste, education, beauty, and other attributes. They then compute a set of stable matches, which they compare to the actual matches that they observe in the data. They find the stable matches to be quite similar to the actual matches, suggesting a relatively frictionless marriage market. One of their key empirical findings is that there is a very strong preference for within-caste marriage. However, because both sides of the market share this preference and because the groups are fairly homogeneous in terms of the distribution of other attributes, in equilibrium, the cost of wanting to marry within-caste is low. This allows caste to remain a persistent feature of the Indian marriage market.

Related Paper:

Marry for what? Caste and Mate Selection in Modern India