Centre for Development Economics
Department of Economics

Delhi School of Economics


Made in Heaven, Matched by Parents” : Does Arranged Marriage Restrict Labour Market Autonomy and Participation of Women? Theory and Evidence from India



Prof.  Anirban Kar 
(Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi)
Dr. Sugata Bag
(Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi)
April 7, Thursday at 3:05 PM IST,  [Seminar Room-116] (offline)


Female labour force participation in India has stagnated despite gains in other aspects. Do Indian women prefer to stay out of labourmarket voluntarily or do social norms prevent their participation? We identify parental involvement in partner choice during marriage as an important bottleneck. We first find that women who had some degree of involvement in partner choice enjoy significantly more autonomy in post-marriage labour market choices than those whose marriages were arranged solely by parents. We use a marriage tradition instrument to estimate causal effects. Since autonomy and participation affect each other, next, we estimate simultaneous equations for autonomy and participation for only rural women. We use parental involvement  in marriage and district-level share of drought-affected villages as two exogenous variables – the former for autonomy and the latter for participation. We find that autonomy significantly increases participation. We further explain the mechanism through a theoretical model. To distinguish between autonomy and participation; we introduce a new household delegation game. The main message of the theoretical model is that parental involvement in partner choice reduces women’s ability to screen partners leading to relatively more mismatches, i.e.,women who are inclined to work mismatched with men who prefer otherwise..

All are cordially invited.

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