What's Love Got To Do With It? Economic Growth
“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. These results suggest that lowering the incentive for parental control in mate choice may improve investments in women’s human capital in India.
From the Conclusion:
My results also suggest that a movement from arranged marriage to love marriage may be instrumental in promoting growth. I find that parental control in the selection of a daughter-inlaw results in brides with lower levels of human capital. In equilibrium, this lowers the return on women’s education and thus adversely affects the incentive to invest in women’s human capital. This suggests that developing infrastructure for the care of the elderly, improving social security, encouraging retirement planning, and thereby lowering the incentive for parental control over son’s marital choices, may be an effective mechanism for increasing investment in women’s human capital.
The Altantic has a report on the paper here.