The Role of Inter-Caste Marriage and Women’s Agency in Spousal Choice on Post-Marital Choices of Fertility Decisions and Educational Outcomes of Children
Eissa, Nada O
In India, the caste system dominates marital choice. Couples who marry outside of their caste, therefore, buck a powerful cultural taboo. This thesis investigates the effect of agency of women in spouse selection for marriage on the educational attainment and post-marital fertility decisions. Using the Indian Human Development Survey-II (2011-12) data, we examine if the children in inter-caste households have different educational outcomes than children in traditional households. The thesis accounts for a second important feature of marriage in India: the degree to which marriages are arranged. Women who choose their spouse or marry outside of their caste are quite different than those who comply with the prevailing social norms because they would need to exercise a certain level of agency. The potential channels of this association between marriage type and educational outcomes include deviation from social norms, desire for upward mobility, intra-household decision about parental investment, and autonomy of the mother in intra-household decisions – may contribute to the educational attainment of their children. One potential channel through which the impact of inter-caste households on education may operate differently is through family size. The thesis, thus, also explores the effect of couples in an inter-caste marriage on the number of children the woman bears.
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