Marriage Choice and Length to First Birth Interval in India

Apoorva Jadhav, University of Pennsylvania

Concomitant with a fertility decline, Indian cultural institutions like marriage are experiencing a transition from traditional arranged to love marriage. This study is the first to examine the impact of increased female autonomy in partner choice on the length to first birth, using data from the nationally representative India Human Development Survey (2005). Results indicate that women in arranged marriages have longer birth intervals, with a mean of 41 months, while those in love marriages have a significantly shorter interval, at 33 months. These findings are explained by increasing female age at marriage, increasing female education, urban residence, spouse being from a different village, and longer length of familiarity with spouse prior to marriage. Analysis by birth cohort (1956-1980) reveals the overall decreasing trend in length to first birth intervals by marriage, as well as the sustained delay in age at marriage and the “catching-up” of births among women in recent birth cohorts.

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Presented in Poster Session 5