Is This a Nuptiality Transition? Or Is It Something Else?

Alaka Malwade Basu, Cornell University

In this paper I ask three questions: 1. Just because raising the age at marriage has historically been advocated to lower fertility and population growth, does it follow that later marriage and childbearing are good for women and children too? 2. Are recent rises in the age at marriage in India being correctly attributed to positive changes in attitudes and aspirations? 3. Can we learn more about the impetus behind the rising age at marriage by looking at changes in the marriage age of men rather than women? An exploration of the nuptiality transition in India suggests that it may not be as definitive as the term implies and that it may at least partly reflect an inability of men to marry for several reasons. The result – rising numbers of young unattached males – while good for population size, might not be so good for social and political stability.

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Presented in Session 21: Union Formation: Developing Countries