London: By 2050, it will be more difficult for Indian women to find an eligible partner, particularly if they have been educated at university or college-level, according to new research.
The research published in the journal ‘Demography’ theorises that if current social norms persist by 2050 whereby university-educated or college-educated men are more desirable spouses than women similarly educated, 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 per cent in 2010 to nearly 9 percent 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.
They harmonised 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 population in India by 2050 to develop scenarios for future marriage patterns.
The researchers analysed data from the National Family Health Survey, India (2005-06) and the India Socio-Economic Survey (1999, 2004) that show 0.6 per cent of all women and 1.2 percent 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 by 2050, there will be around 92 men for every 100 women aged 25-29 with a university education, as compared with 151 men for every 100 women from the same age group educated at university in 2010.
The paper suggests that if projected marriage patterns were solely focused on the age-sex structure of the future population in India, men rather than women would have a problem finding suitable marriage partners by 2050.
However, once education is factored in, the pool of suitable marriage partners for women shrinks – if current eligibility criteria apply to future populations.
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”.