Demographic Opportunity and Mate Selection in India

Scott J. South, University at Albany, State University of New York (SUNY)
Katherine Trent, University at Albany, State University of New York (SUNY)
Sunita Bose, State University of New York at New Paltz (SUNY)

We merge individual-level data from the 2004-2005 India Human Development Survey with district-level data derived from the 1991 and 2001 Indian population censuses to examine how the numerical supply of men to which married women were exposed during late adolescence affects various dimensions of mate selection. Multilevel models that control for an array of both individual and contextual characteristics reveal that among women with high levels of education exposure to a higher age-specific male-to-female sex ratio significantly lowers age at marriage, and that less educated women tend to marry comparatively younger men in more favorable than less favorable marriage markets. Moreover, exposure to a relative surplus of potential mates is associated with a higher likelihood that women will have little or no say in the selection of their husband and an increased probability that women will meet their husband for the first time on their wedding day.

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Presented in Poster Session 1: Marriage, Unions, Families and Households