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Marry For What: Caste And Mate Selection In Modern India

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Executive Summary

This paper studies the role played by caste, education and other social and economic attributes in arranged marriages among middle-class Indians. The authors 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. They estimate the preferences for caste, education, beauty, and other attributes. They then compute a set of stable matches, which they compare to the actual matches that they observe in the data. They find the stable matches to be quite similar to the actual matches, suggesting a relatively frictionless marriage market. One of the key empirical findings is that there is a very strong preference for within-caste marriage.

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