Saturday, April 25, 2015

When women say no ... troubles ahead for India's young males

A couple of years ago, when visiting with the folks, an extended family relative came by to spend some time with my parents.  As is often the case, the elders inquired about her daughter's marriage--whether there were any proposals in the works.

Her reply fascinated me.  Something I would not have imagined.  Her daughter was very particular that she did not want any "boy" who was outside India or had plans to work outside India for a long time.

Such a stand by a young woman, an IT professional herself, would have been next to impossible a few years ago.  For one, not wanting to live abroad for a long time,  For another, and more importantly, a young woman with an education and career holds the trump cards.  Unlike the old days when women were at the mercy of the prospective groom's and his parents' fancies, this young woman clearly laid out the rules for this matrimonial sequence.

I was reminded of that encounter when I read this in the Economist.  About the marriage squeeze in India (and in China as well.)  Forget the causes for now (those are discussed in the essay); one of the main causes I had recently discussed in this post.

The following chart should interest you:


The chart on the left is a projection of how many men will be around waiting to get married; more men than women.

How much more?
Mr Guilmoto calculates that, in China, for every 100 single women expected to marry in 2050-54 there could be as many as 186 single men (see chart); in India in 2060-64 the peak could be higher: 191 men for each 100 women. This assumes the sex ratio at birth does not change. But even if the ratio were to return to normal in 2020 (which is unlikely), the marriage squeeze would still be severe, peaking at 160 in China in 2030, and at 164 in India 20 years later.
A marriage squeeze of this intensity would be unknown in China and India and extraordinarily rare anywhere in history.
Quite a few bachelors not because it would be their choice to remain unmarried.

The effects will not be felt uniformly across the economic levels, however:
In India and China, women tend to “marry up”—illiterate women marry men with primary education; primary-school women marry men with secondary education; and so on. As a result, men at the bottom of the pyramid, and women at the apex, find it especially hard to find spouses. So the marriage squeeze does not affect everyone equally. It disproportionately hits illiterate men and does not do much to help graduate women
Which also means that the young woman from two years ago, given that she is yet to marry, now inches closer to a risk that she could become too highly qualified and too old for the traditional marriage process, especially because marriages are not arranged when the male is younger than the female.

Interesting complications, yes.


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