Revealed Beliefs and the Marriage Market Return to Education

Alison Andrew (Oxford University)

September 29, 2022, 11:00–12:30

Room Auditorium 4


This paper explores how parents in Rajasthan, India decide how long to keep a daughter in school and when, and to who, to get her married. We develop a dynamic model of parental decision making in which parents take schooling and marriage decisions under uncertainty about the future marriage offers they will receive. Parents' choices are thus partially driven by their beliefs about the likelihood of receiving high-quality marriage offers in the future and how this likelihood depends on a daughter's age and education. We use this model to create a novel hypothetical-choice tool. By varying the degree of certainty over future marriage offers described in hypothetical scenarios, our tool enables us to identify both preferences and probabilistic beliefs without directly eliciting probabilities. We find that parents believe there to be a large marriage-market return to girls' education and that this drives much of the investment that parents make in their daughters' education. And while parents would prefer, other things being equal, to delay a daughters' marriage until at least age 18, a belief that marriage-market prospects begin to deteriorate with age once a daughter is out of school creates an incentive to parents to accept early marriage offers.


Alison Andrew (Oxford University), Revealed Beliefs and the Marriage Market Return to Education, Behavior, Institutions, and Development seminar, September 29, 2022, 11:00–12:30, room Auditorium 4.