The Impact of Women's Age at Marriage on Own and Spousal Labor Market Outcomes in India: Causation or Selection?

Posted: 14 May 2018 Last revised: 16 Jul 2019

See all articles by Gaurav Dhamija

Gaurav Dhamija

Shiv Nadar University

Punarjit Roychowdhury

University of Nottingham

Date Written: May 4, 2018


The labor market impacts of women’s age at marriage have recently received significant attention from social scientists. The focus of this literature, however, has been the developed world and almost nothing is known about how a delay in marriage affects labor market prospects of women in developing countries. This paper addresses this gap in the existing literature by providing the first comprehensive assessment of the relationship between women’s age at marriage and own as well as spousal labor market outcomes specifically in context of a developing country. Using nationally representative household data from India, we find evidence of positive effects of women’s age at marriage on their own and their spouses’ labor market outcomes. To examine whether these effects are causal or arise due to selection into marriage, we use an instrumental variables-based empirical strategy that utilizes variation in age at menarche to obtain exogenous variation in women’s age at marriage. Our results indicate that the positive effects of age at marriage of women on own as well spousal labor market outcomes are not causal and arise purely due to selection. The results are robust to addressing biases due to nonrandom selection of individuals into labor force. Our findings shed new light on theories of labor market in developing countries specifically through the lens of marriage.

Keywords: Age at Marriage, India, Instrumental Variables, Labor Market Outcomes, Selection, Women

JEL Classification: J12, J16, J22, J31, O12

Suggested Citation

Dhamija, Gaurav and Roychowdhury, Punarjit, The Impact of Women's Age at Marriage on Own and Spousal Labor Market Outcomes in India: Causation or Selection? (May 4, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

Gaurav Dhamija

Shiv Nadar University ( email )

NH-91, Village- Chithera, Tehsil-Dadri,
Dist. Gautam Buddha Nagar, UP
Gautam Buddha Nagar, Uttar Pradesh

Punarjit Roychowdhury (Contact Author)

University of Nottingham ( email )

United Kingdom

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