Sex Ratio Imbalances and Marriage Squeeze in India: 2000–2050

This paper is part of a technical paper series covering interconnections between sex ratio and marriage squeeze; class and education; and crime rates
Rapid fertility decline and availability of sex determination technologies have led to a skewed sex ratio in favour of males. This imbalance in the sex ratio at birth impacts the marriage markets, albeit in a lagged manner, resulting in a ‘male marriage squeeze’. This paper examines the present and future trends of marriage squeeze in India. For this purpose, an ‘original’ age-sex distribution is constructed using different data sources such as Census, NFHS, NSS, and SRS. Several methods are used for this analysis, focusing on two main determinants of marriage squeeze – age gap and education gap. As expected, while the age gap mitigates marriage squeeze, a reduction in the education gap between men and women can lead to a worsening. Illiterate males and highly educated females are affected by the squeeze. With female education hypergamy and age gap of 3 to 8 years, there is an excess of 5.5 males for every 100 females at the all-India level in 2012; this rises to a maximum of 10.9 excess males by 2050. However, these numbers are 7 and 15 in the deficit states (Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh) for the years 2012 and 2050 respectively. It is a generally accepted fact that in any given population, around 5 per cent of men and women remain unmarried at age 40 and above. Therefore, only an unmarried population above 5 per cent is indicative of a marriage squeeze. Keywords - Marriage squeeze index, hypergamy, sex-selection, education gap, age gap, India.
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