IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Marry for What? Caste and Mate Selection in Modern India

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

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

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

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.

in new window

Date of creation: May 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cep:stieop:009
Contact details of provider: Web page:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Vijayendra Rao, . "The Rising Price of Husbands: A Hedonic Analysis of Dowry Increases in Rural India," University of Chicago - Population Research Center 91-6, Chicago - Population Research Center.
  2. David Lam, 1988. "Marriage Markets and Assortative Mating with Household Public Goods: Theoretical Results and Empirical Implications," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 23(4), pages 462-487.
  3. Ran Abramitzky & Adeline Delavande & Luis Vasconcelos, 2008. "Marrying Up: The Role of Sex Ratio in Assortative Matching," Discussion Papers 07-050, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  4. Cole, Harold L & Mailath, George J & Postlewaite, Andrew, 1992. "Social Norms, Savings Behavior, and Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(6), pages 1092-1125, December.
  5. Bisin, A. & Verdier, T., 1997. "The Economics of Cultural Transmission and the Dynamics of Preferences," DELTA Working Papers 97-03, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  6. Alberto Bisin & Giorgio Topa & Thierry Verdier, 2004. "Religious Intermarriage and Socialization in the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(3), pages 615-664, June.
  7. Subhasish Dugar & Haimanti Bhattacharya & David Reiley, 2012. "Can'T Buy Me Love? A Field Experiment Exploring The Trade‐Off Between Income And Caste‐Status In An Indian Matrimonial Market," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 50(2), pages 534-550, 04.
  8. Fernandez, R. & Rogerson, R., 1999. "Sorting and Long-Run Inequality," Working Papers 99-22, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  9. Parag A. Pathak & Tayfun Sonmez, 2008. "Leveling the Playing Field: Sincere and Sophisticated Players in the Boston Mechanism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1636-52, September.
  10. Almenberg, Johan & Dreber, Anna, 2008. "Lady and the Trump: Status and Wealth in the Marriage Market," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 690, Stockholm School of Economics, revised 10 Jul 2008.
  11. Becker, Gary S, 1973. "A Theory of Marriage: Part I," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(4), pages 813-46, July-Aug..
  12. Aytek Erdil & Haluk Ergin, 2008. "What's the Matter with Tie-Breaking? Improving Efficiency in School Choice," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 669-89, June.
  13. Bargain, Olivier & Bhaumik, Sumon K. & Chakrabarty, Manisha & Zhao, Zhong, 2008. "Earnings Differences between Chinese and Indian Wage Earners, 1987–2004," IZA Discussion Papers 3284, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  14. Elliott Peranson & Alvin E. Roth, 1999. "The Redesign of the Matching Market for American Physicians: Some Engineering Aspects of Economic Design," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 748-780, September.
  15. Kaivan Munshi & Mark Rosenzweig, 2006. "Traditional Institutions Meet the Modern World: Caste, Gender, and Schooling Choice in a Globalizing Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(4), pages 1225-1252, September.
  16. Rosenzweig, Mark R & Stark, Oded, 1989. "Consumption Smoothing, Migration, and Marriage: Evidence from Rural India," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(4), pages 905-26, August.
  17. Siwan Anderson, 2003. "Why Dowry Payments Declined with Modernization in Europe but Are Rising in India," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(2), pages 269-310, April.
  18. Raquel Fernández, 2003. "Household Formation, Inequality, and the Macroeconomy," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(2-3), pages 683-697, 04/05.
  19. Raymond Fisman & Sheena S. Iyengar & Emir Kamenica & Itamar Simonson, 2006. "Gender Differences in Mate Selection: Evidence from a Speed Dating Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 121(2), pages 673-697, May.
  20. Murphy, Kevin M & Topel, Robert H, 1985. "Estimation and Inference in Two-Step Econometric Models," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 3(4), pages 370-79, October.
  21. Elena Glinskaya & Michael Lokshin, 2007. "Wage differentials between the public and private sectors in India," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(3), pages 333-355.
  22. Raymond Fisman & Sheena S. Iyengar & Emir Kamenica & Itamar Simonson, 2008. "Racial Preferences in Dating," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(1), pages 117-132.
  23. Günter Hitsch & Ali Hortaçsu & Dan Ariely, 2010. "What makes you click?—Mate preferences in online dating," Quantitative Marketing and Economics, Springer, vol. 8(4), pages 393-427, December.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:

  1. Marry for What? Caste and Mate Selection in Modern India (AEJ:MI 2013) in ReplicationWiki

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cep:stieop:009. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.