London: If current social patterns continue, Indian women — and not men — will have a problem in finding suitable marriage partners by 2050, especially if they’re looking for well-educated ones, according to a new study.
The research, published in the journal ‘Demography’, theorises that if current social norms — whereby university-educated or college-educated men are more desirable spouses — continue to 2050, there will be a ‘mis-match’ in numbers of ‘suitable’ men and women.
The study involved researchers from the University of Oxford, the Centre for Demographic Studies, Barcelona and Minnesota Population Centre, USA.
Their 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 per cent by 2050, with the most significant increase experienced by university-educated women.
Their model also shows a rise in the percentage of unmarried men, particularly among those with little education.
A significant proportion of men in India currently marry women less educated than themselves.
Lead author Ridhi Kashyap, from the Department of Sociology at the University of Oxford, said: “Traditional roles and expectations for women and men in India persist despite the significant social and demographic changes witnessed in recent years.
This research shows that the rigid social structure still experienced in India will need to bend so age and education are not barriers to future unions. Otherwise, this research suggests the prospects of marriage for many in the future will diminish, particularly for highly educated women and men with little education”.
Researchers matched 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 Indian population by 2050 to develop scenarios for future marriage patterns.
They analysed data from the National Family Health Survey, India (2005-06) and the India Socio-Economic Survey (1999, 2004). The surveys had shown that 0.6% of all women and 1.2% of all men remain unmarried by the age of 50.
Existing population projection data from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis and Vienna Institute of Demography shows that there will be around 92 men for every 100 women aged 25-29 with a university education, as against 151 men for every 100 women in the same age group educated at university in 2010.
But these projections stand only if marriage patterns focused solely on the age-sex structure of the future population in India. Once education is factored in, the pool of suitable marriage partners for women shrinks – considering current eligibility criteria.