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Marry for What? Caste and Mate Selection in Modern India

Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo, Maitreesh Ghatak () and Jeanne Lafortune

No 423, Documentos de Trabajo from Instituto de Economia. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.

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.

Keywords: Caste; Marriage; Stable matching (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D10 J12 O12 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-dem and nep-dev
Date: 2012
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Related works:
Journal Article: Marry for What? Caste and Mate Selection in Modern India (2013) Downloads
Working Paper: Marry for What? Caste and Mate Selection in Modern India (2009) Downloads
Working Paper: Marry for What? Caste and Mate Selection in Modern India (2009) Downloads
Working Paper: Marry for What? Caste and Mate Selection in Modern India (2009) Downloads
Working Paper: Marry for What: Caste and Mate Selection in Modern India (2009) Downloads
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