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Marry for What? Caste and Mate Selection in Modern India

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  • Abhijit Banerjee
  • Esther Duflo
  • Maitreesh Ghatak
  • Jeanne Lafortune

Abstract

This paper studies the role played by caste, education and other social and economicattributes in arranged marriages among middle-class Indians. We use a unique dataset on individuals who placed matrimonial advertisements in a major newspaper,the responses they received, how they ranked them, and the eventual matches. Weestimate the preferences for caste, education, beauty, and other attributes. We thencompute a set of stable matches, which we compare to the actual matches that weobserve in the data. We find the stable matches to be quite similar to the actualmatches, suggesting a relatively frictionless marriage market. One of our keyempirical 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 thegroups are fairly homogeneous in terms of the distribution of other attributes, inequilibrium, the cost of wanting to marry within-caste is low. This allows caste toremain a persistent feature of the Indian marriage market

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE in its series STICERD - Economic Organisation and Public Policy Discussion Papers Series with number 009.

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Date of creation: May 2009
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Handle: RePEc:cep:stieop:009

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Web page: http://sticerd.lse.ac.uk/_new/publications/default.asp

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