Educated Indian women will find it increasingly difficult to find eligible partners by 2050, according to new research that extrapolates current norms and population trends. The paper, published in the journal ‘Demography’ by researchers at the University of Oxford, Centre for Demographic Studies, Barcelona, and the Minnesota Population Centre, US, builds on the premise that a significant proportion of Indian men currently marry women less educated than themselves.
The research theories that if current social norms persist by 2050 when university-educated or college-educated men are more desirable spouses than women similarly educated, there will be a ‘mis-match’ in numbers.
Lead author of the paper Ridhi Kashyap (Oxford) said: “This research suggests that in India, families need a more open mind about the suitability of marriage partners. The fact that the number of women with higher education is growing is a success story for India.”
The research model assumes that without a change in contemporary norms, the proportion of never-married women aged 45-49 will go up from 0.07% in 2010 to nearly 9% by 2050, with the most significant increase experienced by university-educated women.
The researchers harmonised existing data on current marriage patterns by age and education and applied these to population projections on the likely age, sex and educational attainment of the population in India by 2050 to develop scenarios for future marriage patterns.
Kashyap added: “In contrast to the East and Southeast Asian experience...marriage in India remains universal. Traditional roles and expectations persist despite significant social and demographic changes...This rigid social structure will need to bend so age and education are not barriers to future unions. Otherwise, this research suggests prospects of marriage for many in the future will diminish, particularly for highly-educated women and men with little education.”