alexa Age patterns of women at marriage, cohabitation, and first birth in India.
Social & Political Sciences

Social & Political Sciences

Sociology and Criminology-Open Access

Author(s): Bloom DE, Reddy PH

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Abstract The purpose of this paper has been to examine the age patterns of Indian women at marriage, cohabitation, and first birth. This task is complicated by features of the Indian marriage institution that differentiate it from the institution of marriage in Western cultures. It is also complicated by the diversity of Indian marriage customs and by the possibility that Indian marriage patterns have changed over time. Nevertheless, our analysis of survey data for two districts in south central India support the following conclusions: Marriage and childbearing have been and continue to be universal. The timing of marriage and childbearing, which showed only a small increase over a fairly long period of time, appears more recently to be undergoing some changes in the direction of longer delays. The significant rural-urban differences in marriage and fertility timing are at least partly the result of the greater impact of education on age at marriage, cohabitation, and first birth in urban areas than in rural areas. Observed characteristics such as religion and education explain more variation in women's marriage and fertility timing in urban areas than in rural areas (i.e., education seems to generate new social norms that tend to displace norms derived from tradition. The incidence of childhood marriages and two-stage marriages has been on the decline, causing the small but noticeable rise in age at marriage to exceed somewhat the increase in age at cohabitation. Age patterns of marriage in India do not closely resemble Western patterns, although age patterns of cohabitation and first birth do. And socioeconomic variables appear to explain less variation in marriage and fertility timing within local communities than across communities. Most important, the results highlight the need for more recent and richer data on marriage and fertility behavior in India. In particular, they strongly suggest that marriage patterns in India are now in the midst of major changes. This conclusion is similar to that reached by Caldwell, Reddy, and Caldwell (1983), who adopted a more qualitative approach to analyzing marriage change than ours, but whose observations are also more recent than ours. Through the collection and analysis of more recent and geographically widespread data, we can begin to assess more fully the nature and magnitude of the demographic changes under way and speculate on their implications for population growth, economic development, and the formulation of public policy in India.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)
This article was published in Demography and referenced in Sociology and Criminology-Open Access

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