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American Economic Journal: Microeconomics: Vol. 5 No. 2 (May 2013)

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Marry for What? Caste and Mate Selection in Modern India

Article Citation

Banerjee, Abhijit, Esther Duflo, Maitreesh Ghatak, and Jeanne Lafortune. 2013. "Marry for What? Caste and Mate Selection in Modern India." American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, 5(2): 33-72.

DOI: 10.1257/mic.5.2.33

Abstract

This paper analyzes how preferences for a noneconomic characteristic (e.g., caste) can affect equilibrium patterns of matching, and empirically evaluates this in the context of middle-class Indian arranged marriages. We show theoretically how the equilibrium consequences of caste depend on whether preferences are towards one's own group or for "marrying up." We then estimate actual preferences for caste and other attributes using a unique dataset of individuals who placed matrimonial advertisements and find only a strong preference for in-caste marriage. This translates, in equilibrium, in caste doing little to alter the matching patterns on non-caste attributes. (JEL C78, J12, O15, O17, Z13)

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Authors

Banerjee, Abhijit (MIT)
Duflo, Esther (MIT)
Ghatak, Maitreesh (London School of Economics and Political Science)
Lafortune, Jeanne (Instituto de Economia, Pontifical Catholic U Chile)

JEL Classifications

C78: Bargaining Theory; Matching Theory
J12: Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure; Domestic Abuse
O15: Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
O17: Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements
Z13: Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Social and Economic Stratification

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