, Volume 50, Issue 5, pp 1663–1686 | Cite as

Marital Processes, Arranged Marriage, and Contraception to Limit Fertility

  • Dirgha J. GhimireEmail author
  • William G. Axinn


An international transition away from familially arranged marriages toward participation in spouse choice has endured for decades and continues to spread through rural Asia today. Although we know that this transformation has important consequences for childbearing early in marriage, we know much less about longer-term consequences of this marital revolution. Drawing on theories of family and fertility change and a rural Asian panel study designed to measure changes in both marital and childbearing behaviors, this study seeks to investigate these long-term consequences. Controlling for social changes that shape both marital practices and childbearing behaviors, and explicitly considering multiple dimensions of marital processes, we find evidence consistent with an independent, long-standing association of participation in spouse choice with higher rates of contraception to terminate childbearing. These results add a new dimension to the evidence linking revolutions in marital behavior to long-term declines in fertility and suggest that new research should consider a broader range of long-term consequences of changing marital processes.


Marriage Contraception Arranged marriage Fertility South Asia 



This research was jointly supported by generous grants from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R03HD055976, R01HD032912, and R24HD041028) and by a grant from the Fogarty International Center to the University of Michigan’s Population Studies Center. We thank Cathy Sun at the Population Studies Center for her assistance with creating analysis files, constructing measures and conducting analyses; the staff at the Institute for Social and Environmental Research–Nepal for data collection; and the Western Chitwan Valley residents for their valuable contributions to this research. The authors alone remain responsible for any errors or omissions.


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© Population Association of America 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Survey Research Center and Population Studies Center, Institute for Social ResearchUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.Survey Research Center and Population Studies Center, Institute for Social Research, and SociologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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