Are taller women more successful at the marriage market? The case of India

Jeroen Smits, Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen
Christiaan W. S. Monden, University of Oxford

Positively valued traits allow individuals to attract better partners at the marriage market. Height as a signal of health capital is such a trait. Taller women are healthier than shorter women, they give birth more easily and they get healthier offspring. We therefore would expect them to be more successful at the marriage market as well, especially in less affluent societies. However, the available evidence is mixed and data on actual marriage outcomes are scarce. We analyze data on partners’ height for over 32,000 marriages concluded since 1980 in India. The analyses suggest that taller-than-average women are more successful in the competition for desirable mates: they are more likely to marry, get higher educated husband with better jobs and are less likely to lose their husbands by divorce or premature death.

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Presented in Session 70: Assortative mating: Trends, causes, and consequences