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Marry for What? Caste and Mate Selection in Modern India

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

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)

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Journal: Microeconomics.

Volume (Year): 5 (2013)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Pages: 33-72

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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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