- The Love Revolution: The Decline in Arranged Marriages in Asia, the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa
(available upon request)
Abstract: Arranged marriages (AM) have existed in many societies throughout time, and they have acted as a mechanism that enables two families to enter into an informal contract that will provide benefits to their members; for example, create political alliances, ensure consumption smoothing, facilitate economic transactions, consolidate power, increase wealth, among others. In Europe, they disappeared towards the 12th century, remaining popular only among the wealthy class finally disappearing after the Industrial Revolution. In Asia and Africa they remained the most popular marriage institution until the middle of the 20th century. This paper documents a striking decline in AM and a raise in love marriages (LM) in Asia, the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa, showing the transition for 18 countries. This paper also documents several stylized facts by type of marriage, finding that women in AM tend to live in rural areas, have lower education, belong to agricultural and land-owning households, and are engaged in non-paid activities. In addition, it summarizes the main explanations found in the literature of Economics, Sociology and Anthropology for the existence of AM. Based on these potential explanations and using the patterns described, I suggest two hypotheses regarding the causes behind their decline: (i) a decrease in the value of informal insurance arrangements and (ii) an increase in the cost of informal insurance arrangements. I discuss several economic changes that could lead to either explanation. Finally, I analyze some potential welfare consequences of the transition, focusing on measures of domestic violence, finding that women in AM are more prone to suffer domestic abuse.