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Marry for What? Caste and Mate Selection in Modern India

Author

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

Abstract

This paper analyzes how preferences for a noneconomic characteristic (e.g., caste) can affect equilibrium patterns of matching, and empirically evaluates this in the context of middle-class Indian arranged marriages. We show theoretically how the equilibrium consequences of caste depend on whether preferences are towards one's own group or for "marrying up." We then estimate actual preferences for caste and other attributes using a unique dataset of individuals who placed matrimonial advertisements and find only a strong preference for in-caste marriage. This translates, in equilibrium, in caste doing little to alter the matching patterns on non-caste attributes. (JEL C78, J12, O15, O17, Z13)

Suggested Citation

  • Abhijit Banerjee & Esther Duflo & Maitreesh Ghatak & Jeanne Lafortune, 2013. "Marry for What? Caste and Mate Selection in Modern India," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(2), pages 33-72, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejmic:v:5:y:2013:i:2:p:33-72
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/mic.5.2.33
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C78 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Bargaining Theory; Matching Theory
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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