Marry for What? Caste and Mate Selection in Modern India

67 Pages Posted: 9 May 2009 Last revised: 22 Sep 2010

See all articles by Abhijit V. Banerjee

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

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: May 8, 2009

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.

Keywords: Caste, marriage markets, Gale-Shapley Algorithm

JEL Classification: D10, J12, O12

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 8, 2009). MIT Department of Economics Working Paper No. 09-14. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1401576 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1401576

Abhijit V. Banerjee (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics ( email )

50 Memorial Drive
Room E52-252D
Cambridge, MA 02142
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617-253-8855 (Phone)
617-253-6915 (Fax)

Esther Duflo

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics ( email )

50 Memorial Drive
Room E52-544
Cambridge, MA 02139
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)

London
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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