Population Research and Policy Review

, Volume 33, Issue 2, pp 205-227

First online:

Who Marries Whom? Changing Mate Selection Preferences in Urban India and Emerging Implications on Social Institutions

  • Ravi PrakashAffiliated withPoverty, Gender & Youth Division, Population Council, India Habitat Center Email author 
  • , Abhishek SinghAffiliated withDepartment of Public Health & Mortality Studies, International Institute for Population Sciences

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Marriages in India, since the early period, are mostly characterized by family-arranged marriages where parents and family members take a prime responsibility in overall mate-selection process. Modern education has brought greater access to economic resources as well as media exposure among men and women of the present generation. These have also been found as contributing factors to late marriages, diminishing role of parents in mate selection, increased prevalence of self-selected marriages and greater space for personal choices in mate-selection process in most parts of the developed world. Evidence that has explored whether such choices are emerging in the societies traditionally characterized by family-arranged marriages and what are the implications of ongoing changes in mate-selection process on the present marriage market and on other social institutions are limited. Drawing on data from 544 married and unmarried young men and women and their parents from a traditional Indian society, we explore the ongoing changes in mate-selection preferences and its implication on various social institutions. Findings suggest that there is a growing evidence of valuing the economic potential, trustworthiness, equal temperament, physical look, and intelligence of the prospective partner among men and women of the present generation. The emergence of specific preferences also possesses great implication on the other social institutions because of increased divorced, increase in self-selected marriages, and delayed child bearing if the choices of men and women were not considered at the time of marriage.


Mate-selection preferences Mate-selection process, marriage market Cross-generational changes