Basu and co-author Sneha Kumar of the University of Texas, Austin, analyzed data from the Indian National Family Health Survey (NFHS), finding that economic changes including unemployment are forcing adaptations in traditional marriage practices – making men wait longer and sometimes pay to tie the knot – but not enough for a modernizing overhaul to this deeply traditional institution.
Although more unmarried men could stir up political trouble, she said, women may benefit in the long run, becoming more educated if they are marrying later.
The study, “Bride Price, Dowry, and Young Men With Time to Kill: A Commentary on Men’s Marriage Postponement in India,” published in the November 2022 issue of Population Studies: A Journal of Demography.
Unemployment and delayed marriage are connected in many parts of the world, Basu said, but the connection has special meaning in India, where, traditionally, men don’t need money to get married and establish a family.
“A still-popular joint family system means that sons do not have to leave home and establish an independent life upon marriage, and marriage expenses are borne almost entirely by the bride’s family in most parts of the country,” Basu said. “Yet there is this connection between male unemployment and delayed marriage.”