What’s Love Got to Do with It? Parental Involvement and Spouse Choice in Urban India

55 Pages Posted: 9 Aug 2010

See all articles by Divya Mathur

Divya Mathur

University of Chicago - Department of Economics

Date Written: November 7, 2007


“Arranged" marriages, characterized by strong parental control over mate choice, are the norm in India, although there is a steady transition towards autonomous “love” marriages, especially within the urban middle class. I construct a novel dataset by surveying 6,030 parents and adult children in Mumbai, India, to study selection into arranged marriage and its effects on spouse choice. I consider the choice between an arranged and a love marriage as the outcome of bargaining between parents and children, when agents have different preferences for spouse attributes. I find that stronger financial and kinship ties between parents and sons increase the likelihood of an arranged marriage. Furthermore, when parents are involved in mate choice, sons are significantly less likely to marry college-educated women and women engaged in the labor force, after controlling for individual and family characteristics. I show that these effects are driven, at least in part, by parental preferences and cannot be entirely attributed to correlation between arranged marriages and unobserved characteristics or preferences. These results suggest that lowering the incentive for parental control in mate choice may improve investments in women’s human capital in India.

Keywords: Marriage, India, Household Bargaining

JEL Classification: J12, D10

Suggested Citation

Mathur, Divya, What’s Love Got to Do with It? Parental Involvement and Spouse Choice in Urban India (November 7, 2007). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1655998 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1655998

Divya Mathur (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Department of Economics ( email )

1126 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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