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Marry for What? Caste and Mate Selection in Modern India

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

Abstract

This paper analyzes how preferences for a non-economic characteristic, such as caste, can affect equilibrium patterns of matching in the marriage market, and empirically evaluates this in the context of arranged marriages among middle-class Indians. We develop a model that demonstrates how the equilibrium consequences of caste depend on whether we observe a bias towards one’s own group or if there is a preference for “marrying up”. We then estimate actual preferences for caste, education, beauty, and other attributes using a unique data set on individuals who placed matrimonial advertisements in a major newspaper, the responses they received, and how they ranked them. Our key empirical finding is the presence of a strong preference for in-caste marriage. We find that in equilibrium, as predicted by our theoretical framework, these preferences do little to alter the matching patterns on non-caste attributes, and so people do not have to sacrifice much to marry within caste. This suggests a reason whycaste remains a persistent feature of the Indian marriage market.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Instituto de Economia. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. in its series Documentos de Trabajo with number 423.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:ioe:doctra:423

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Keywords: Caste; Marriage; Stable matching;

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