Indian youth marrying later



  • As norms and values around marriage and family life change, the Indian youth too are being influenced by recent trends. Compared to a decade ago, youth are now marrying later in life.
  • Lokniti-CSDS Youth Studies in 2016 and 2007 show the proportion of married youth decreased by eight percentage points from 55% In 2007 to 47% in 2016.


  • A much higher share of young men wereunmarried (61%) compared to women (41%).
  • Educational attainment too is an important factor associated with marriage. One observes a decline in the proportion of married youth with successive levels of education.

Marital preferences

  • In an age of online dating, growth of social networking and matrimonial sites, arranged marriages are still a preferred choice: 84% of the married youth in 2016 said their marriage was decided by families and only 6% reported self-choice.
  • Unmarried youth too showed an inclination towards arranged marriages with 50% saying they would opt for this kind of marriage.
  • Only 12% would opt for self-choice marriage. Surprisingly, the 2016 study indicates that a mere 3% of youth had placed a matrimonial advertisement.
  • 31% of the youth said their parents will have or had a lot of influence on their marriage decision. This influence was greater for women (35%) than men (28%).
  • Data from a recent study, ‘Politics and Society between Election’, show there is some change in attitudes — if not in practice — when it comes to decision-making for women in marriage: 72 % support women’s say in when to get married and 74 % in whom to marry.
  • There has been an attitude shift on the importance of marriage with an increase in acceptance of being single. Though close to 5 in 10 Indian youth said it is important to get married, this is much lower than 8 in 10 a decade ago.
  • Barring non-literates, all other groups were found to be over twice more likely to express this sentiment than they were a decade ago.

Caste & religion

  • The Youth Study 2016 shows that marriage across caste and religion is still not accepted in an arranged marriage set-up.
  • Among the married youth, very few had opted for inter-caste (4%) or marriage outside their religion (3%). These were more prominent among love marriages (inter-caste 34%; inter-religious 12 %).
  • Its acceptance was much higher than what was in practice. One notices an upward trend in acceptance for inter-caste marriages, from 31% in 2007 to 56% in 2016.
  • On the contrary, the acceptance of inter-religious marriage is much lower, with 47% approving of it and 45% considering it wrong.
  • Youth who had an arranged marriage displayed more resistance towards the idea of inter-caste and inter-religious marriages than those whose marriage had been self-arranged.
  • Less than a quarter of youth consider love affair between two boys or two girls as right (24% and 26% respectively).
  • Over half 53% in 2016 were opposed to dating before marriage, but this too has declined from 2007 (60%). However, 67% youth consider the idea of live-in before marriage wrong.

Life partner consideration

  • When it comes to characteristics one seeks in one’s life partner, the youth seem rather vague.
  • Close to half the respondents did not respond to the question. Among those who responded, 14% said their biggest consideration was that the person should have a good nature and simple personality; 8% gave priority to education and 5% each to being respectful and understanding and being traditional, cultured and having moral values.
  • Another 5% said looks and skin colour were their biggest consideration. The spouse’s profession and salary were important to about 4%.
  • A higher proportion of men gave primacy to qualities such as education and looks, especially skin colour.
  • Young womenwere more likely to give importance to profession and salary compared to young men. On most other parameters, there was no striking difference between men and women.


  • The youth are marrying late; the institution of arranged marriage is still intact; marrying across caste or religion is still not much accepted; and overall, attitudes to marriage remain within the boundaries of traditional thinking.
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