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Marry for What? Caste and Mate Selection in Modern India


Abhijit V. Banerjee


Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics

Esther Duflo


Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics; Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development (BREAD)

Maitreesh Ghatak


London School of Economics (LSE) - Department of Economics

Jeanne Lafortune


University of Maryland, College Park

May 2009

LSE STICERD Research Paper No. EOPP009

Abstract:     
This paper studies the role played by caste, education and other social and economic attributes in arranged marriages among middle-class Indians. We use a unique data set on individuals who placed matrimonial advertisements in a major newspaper, the responses they received, how they ranked them, and the eventual matches. We estimate the preferences for caste, education, beauty, and other attributes. We then compute a set of stable matches, which we compare to the actual matches that we observe in the data. We find the stable matches to be quite similar to the actual matches, suggesting a relatively frictionless marriage market. One of our key empirical 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 the groups are fairly homogeneous in terms of the distribution of other attributes, in equilibrium, the cost of wanting to marry within-caste is low. This allows caste to remain a persistent feature of the Indian marriage market

Number of Pages in PDF File: 69

JEL Classification: O10, H10, P16

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Date posted: February 3, 2010  

Suggested Citation

Banerjee, Abhijit V. and Duflo, Esther and Ghatak, Maitreesh and Lafortune, Jeanne, Marry for What? Caste and Mate Selection in Modern India (May 2009). LSE STICERD Research Paper No. EOPP009. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1546903

Contact Information

Abhijit V. Banerjee (Contact Author)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics ( email )
50 Memorial Drive
Room E52-252D
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
617-253-8855 (Phone)
617-253-6915 (Fax)
Esther Duflo
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics ( email )
50 Memorial Drive
Room E52-252G
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
617-258-7013 (Phone)
617-253-6915 (Fax)
Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) ( email )
Cambridge, MA
United States
HOME PAGE: http://www.povertyactionlab.org/
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)
77 Bastwick Street
London, EC1V 3PZ
United Kingdom
Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development (BREAD) ( email )
Duke University
Durham, NC 90097
United States
Maitreesh Ghatak
London School of Economics (LSE) - Department of Economics ( email )
Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom
44 20 7852 3568 (Phone)
44 20 7955 6951 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://sticerd.lse.ac.uk/dps/adds/ghatak/cv-lse-sept02.pdf
Jeanne Lafortune
University of Maryland, College Park ( email )
College Park, MD 20742
United States
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References:  26
Citations:  16

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