Monday, April 8

Social Norms and Aspirations: Age of Marriage and Education in Rural India

This was an interesting study.

The abstract

Using a unique dataset that I collected in three villages in semi-arid India, I analyze the role of perceived returns to education and social norms regarding the ideal age of marriage in the educational plans, i.e., aspirations, parents have for their children. I show that perceptions of the ideal age of marriage significantly constrain the education that parents aspire to have for their daughters, but not their sons. Furthermore, aspirations are sensitive to the perceived returns to higher education in the case of boys, but not in the case of girls.

Bit of a commonsense and traditional view confirmation. Regretfully, Indians are still thinking of their daughters in a very patriarchal manner..and treat sons differently. The author reviewed three villages in AP, Deccan and Vidharba. “Only 39% of the girls would be allowed (by their parents) to pursue higher education, compared to 71% of the boys, and only 8% of the girls is expected to complete higher education versus 22% of the boys.” now that’s pretty shocking…the differences are amazing, orders of magnitude. Interestingly, the author states that if only we can change the socially acceptable age of marriage (18 for girls and 22 for sons) by 1 year will increase education by 0.7 years! So there could potentially be a case for moving the age of marriage up? either by social pressure or by education and perhaps even by law.

Some bright spots still occur, the parents are clearly able to appreciate that higher education will lead to higher returns. on the other hand, despite the clear increase in returns due to education for girls, the costs of having an unmarried girl in the house post the socially acceptable age of marriage is too high and more than the return.

So the increased urbanisation of Indian society should also help in improving the rights and prospects of girls, if they dont get raped and abused in the cities…Pox on them.

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