Where Have All the Brides Gone? Son Preference and Marriage in India Over the Twentieth Century

24 Pages Posted: 16 Jan 2014

See all articles by Bishnupriya Gupta

Bishnupriya Gupta

University of Warwick - Department of Economics

Date Written: February 2014

Abstract

Marriage is universal for women in India, but the marriage rate for men varies across regions, where the region is a proxy for shared cultural norms. A preference for sons results in a biased sex ratio towards men and creates a shortage of brides in the marriage market. Using the Indian census of 1931, the article finds that son preference was a regional phenomenon and led to a low marriage rate for men. Using caste‐level information, the article finds no evidence that men from the upper castes enjoyed an advantage in the marriage market as the theoretical literature predicts. The regional differences in gender bias and marriage market outcomes have persisted over the twentieth century and indicate the persistence of cultural values. The long‐run changes show that the marriage squeeze has reduced the surplus of men in all regions; however, the regional differences in son preference and marriage outcomes were still the same in 2001.

Suggested Citation

Gupta, Bishnupriya, Where Have All the Brides Gone? Son Preference and Marriage in India Over the Twentieth Century (February 2014). The Economic History Review, Vol. 67, Issue 1, pp. 1-24, 2014, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2379788 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1468-0289.12011

Bishnupriya Gupta (Contact Author)

University of Warwick - Department of Economics ( email )

Coventry CV4 7AL
United Kingdom

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