Curious Case of India’s Emerging Hypogamy

Looks like Indian women are increasingly accepting men with lesser educational qualifications than theirs as husbands. As Indian women are getting higher education (mostly by depriving deserving boys), they are increasingly finding it difficult to get more qualified men. But that doesn’t mean, they are compromising on his income. Women are still choosing men from privileged families or with higher earning potential when they (are forced to) select less qualified men.

Read – Govt. Data Shows Boys Are Forced to Drop Out

Recent NSSO survey showed that Indian women still choose ARTS subjects and Social Sciences (just feel like scientists, lol) they are not able to get higher wages. While feminists claim this is a form of mental bias against women (that women don’t do well in science subjects) they very often ignore women’s choices of selecting topics they like. And when gender pay gap is calculated based on this intrinsic bias, (of average salary women earn in a company and comparing that with the average salary of a male employees) – no wonder how even the seasoned researchers of NSSO fails you –

Understand – How NSSO Survey Fooled You on Gender Pay Gap

Some still see gender bias there, as the NCAER researchers Zhiyong Lin, Sonalde Desai and Feinian Chen claims in a recently published online paper. [1] Among them, Sonalde Desai is an accomplished demographer and is also a researcher of Maryland Population Research Center, University of Maryland.

The source of the data for them was India Human Development Survey, (IHDS) 2011-12 sponsored by the Ford Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. I know, the names of the sponsors will ring a bell in your mind, because, you would have already seen their biased surveys earlier (like NFHS) some of which I have already exposed –

Read – How NFHS Survey Fools You on Domestic Violence

Read – How NFHS survey made wives’ mood swings as Marital Rape

Any survey can be altered in different ways rather than only manipulating the data. The outcome can be manipulated by asking wrong questions. For example, Domestic Violence surveys all over the world ask women the questions – “Were you subjected to domestic Violence in last 6 months/1 year/lifetime?” and the same surveys ask men – “Did you subject your wife/girlfriend/partner to domestic violence in last 6 months/1 yr/lifetime?” etc.

Note that in above surveys, you will never be able to find out if men were subjected to any form of domestic violence by women. So, the outcome becomes that only women are subjected to domestic violence and only men are subjecting women to domestic violence. Even more dangerous is the secondary research done by different Universities. Because they still need to give fancy degrees in Gender Studies, Social Sciences, Sociology etc., their students will continue to refer to such biased surveys and creating an ocean of false narrative on any matter. And when that happens, the lies is established.

Don’t forget that NFHS surveys were funded by the Ford Foundation.

As societies develop, women become more educated, the criteria like race, ethnicity, religion etc. weaken for mate selection and traits like education and occupation becomes important. [2, 3, 4] However, in case of India, we see that a man’s occupation may be important but education is increasingly losing its importance as women are going for hypogamy (marrying less qualified males).

IHDS survey found that when hypogamy was limited to only 5% women in the 70’s, it’s about 40% in recent years (2011-12). Even though while trying for my own marriage, I have never seen any woman interested in marrying below. It was only on media we see female teachers eloping with their students (thus hypogamy) and read juicy stories about educated women hooking up with their drivers/plumbers/gardeners/Pizza delivery boys etc.

I have also seen some women collecting degrees like ornaments, without knowing how to use them. In our college, after graduation when boys looked for jobs, women wanted to go for higher studies. I have seen an unemployed woman trying to do her post doc at the age of 37 without trying to get married. But if this mindless accumulation of degrees is considered education, then it is without any benefit to society.

Researchers [1] have found that educational assortative mating in India has a different trend than the world. Authors claimed that in India, increased education does not mean greater chance of getting employed. In this aspect authors mentioned the rising trend in educated women not getting employed. Even though the factor that women choose more ARTS related subjects and hence don’t get jobs is mentioned, another important factor of women getting free money in the name of alimony was not considered.

While feminists claim that women selecting ARTS subjects is a bias; in the nature vs nurture debate Vedic Philosopher Indira Meshram explains this classic ‘Inidan’ phenomenon in her interview with TMF very well –

Read – Little Known Factors Behind Successful Indian Marriages

Since Sonalde Desai and other demographers relied heavily on available global literature on assortative mating to explain Indian scenario without understanding Indian culture and secrets of successful marriages in Indian society, they failed to understand the points described in the interview with Indira. The existing literature on assortative mating also says that expanding education for women also increases their chances of meeting their partners in schools. [5,6] One point to note, however, is when global feminists denounce India’s child marriage as oppressive for women, but they promote finding partners in one’s childhood and also childhood sex, which leaves women to a great danger. [7]

When Indian Child Marriage Seems Scientific

Why Did Vedic India Have Child Marriage

One of the possible reasons for increasing hypogamy is often cited as changing assortative mating behaviour. [8] A theory that Smits and Park [9,10] proposed that considered one’s earning power as proportionate to one’s education and hence they concluded that higher educated women will earn better, will be less dependent on their partners for money and will make independent partner choices. However, we can easily understand from our daily experience that none of these is true. Once’s earning potential depends on the quality and relevant education one has received apart from other factors.

Some researchers have found that economic development has a U-shaped relationship with women employment. [11,12]. According to their theory, maximum women participate in workforce in the least developed and in highly developed countries. but in developing nations like India their workforce participation (and hence earning power) is low.

But my analysis on World’s Human development report found this to be wrong –

Read – Giving Women Higher Education is Not In the Best Interest of a Nation

So, you can easily understand why women’s getting easy alimony should be considered as an important factor here. When women can become rich simply by marrying rich people, why should they work? Now rich men may not be educationally highly qualified, and that is not needed too. Currently world’s richest woman MacKenzie Scott (Bezos) (wife of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos) has only one qualification – divorce to become the richest woman on the world.

Indian women are no exception, too. Studies [13, 14] showed that women actually marry up (financially) by marrying down (educational hypogamy). The IHDS also showed that Indian women who follow hypogamy, all marry up by marrying rich men or marrying into rich families.

Indian context has shown that medium literate women are less likely to participate in workforce than women either less educated or with college degrees. [15, 16] While the authors blamed lack of job opportunities for educated women in India, they also found in India, women are made literate just to ensure they make children sociable and hence education only reinforces patriarchal gender norms.   

The most important criteria for a woman to get married in India is her physical appearance and that of a man is how much he earns. [16] But you can easily understand that it is not only Indian phenomenon as the researchers mentioned. Women worldwide look for men with higher earning only. In an experiment in the west (shown in a Discovery Documentary on Human sexual preferences), this was established. In this experiment, random New Yorkers were asked to rate pics of an opposite gender person in a scale of 1-10, 10 being the sexiest one. It was observed that girls rated the same men highly when there was a fictitious high salary added to the photo description.

Similarly, guys selected physical beauty over any other traits.

But neither the IHDS II survey, nor Sonalde Desai’s paper mention these points. Desai erroneously pointed that the selection of brides based on physical beauty is an Indian phenomenon. There is a scientific reason behind this as well. Psychologists say, that when we (men) select most beautiful woman as the mate, we think that she will give birth to most beautiful offspring. Similarly, for women, when they look for wealthy men, they look for social security. Even when high earning women marry men with a higher income.

The fact that renowned researchers don’t see the ‘other’ kinds of research that doesn’t fit the narrative, tells us how all such research are biased. When we know that most of these are funded by Ford Foundation and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, we know why. Such researchers probably have the urge to show patriarchal bias or maybe their education taught them to be biased persons naturally.

By mentioning a study done by Allendorf and Pandian in 2016 [17], Desai said, “although women are increasingly involved in the selection of their husbands…”. What the researchers have ignored is that historically Indian women have selected their husbands through a method called ‘Swayambar sabha’. We find this in Hindu historical texts of Ramayana and Mahabharata and other scriptures. The foreign researchers, however, aren’t aware because they are not well-read or just being purposeful for the paid research.

So far, educational hypergamy was shown as women’s oppression as women were not allowed to be educated. Now educational hypogamy, too, is shown as women’s oppression because educated women are not getting good jobs and less educated men are getting better employment.

By mentioning a study done by England and Li (2006), [18] the authors have claimed that in India women are oppressed because gender biased norms still exist in Indian education. However, even in world’s leading gender egalitarian countries like Norway, Sweden etc. it is found that women increasingly choose ARTS and Social Sciences (LOL) rather than STEM based study. In India, more women, in fact opt for STEM based study rather than their empowered counterparts. [19] This exposes authors’ little knowledge and bias in this study.

The comparative analysis of IHDS II (2011-12) and NFHS Survey (2014-15) presented in the paper makes one thing very clear –

..that both surveys are sponsored for same reason. Not to mention that they both were funded by Ford Foundation.

Both NFHS and IHDS surveys showed 40% Indian women choose hypogamous relationships, is surely a wrong finding. Any Indian man would know. In my personal experience of searching for a soulmate, I have never found a girl who was more educated (doctorate and above) and was interested in me. So, even though we might have read stories of female teachers eloping with secondary grade students, or some educated woman marrying less educated male industrialists, the prevalence is surely not 40% as shown in the surveys.


  1. The emergence of educational hypogamy in India – Zhiyong Lin, Sonalde Desai and Feinian Chen – Springer Nature; June 2020
  2. Kalmijn, M., & Flap, H. D. (2001) – Assortative meeting and mating: Unintended consequences of organized settings for partner choices. Social Forces.
  3. Qian, Z., & Lichter, D. T. (2007). Social boundaries and marital assimilation: Interpreting trends in racial and ethnic intermarriage. American Sociological Review.
  4. Blossfeld, H.-P. (2009). Educational assortative marriage in comparative perspective. Annual Review of Sociology.
  5. Mare, R. D. (1991). Five decades of educational assortative mating. Demography.
  6. Kalmijn, M., & Flap, H. D. (2001). Assortative meeting and mating: Unintended consequences of organized settings for partner choices. Social Forces.
  7. Indira Meshram (2020). How I achieved real success. A guide to happiness for modern women. Bhakti Vikasa Trust.
  8. Schwartz, C. R. (2013). Trends and variation in assortative mating: Causes and consequences. Annual Review of Sociology.
  9. Smits, J. (2003). Social closure among the higher educated: Trends in educational homogamy in 55 countries. Social Science Research.
  10. Smits, J., & Park, H. (2009). Five decades of educational assortative mating in 10 east Asian societies. Social Forces.
  11. Boserup, E. (1970). Woman’s role in economic development. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press.
  12. Goldin, C. (1995). The U-shaped female labor force function in economic development and economic history. In T. P. Schultz (Ed.), Investment in women’s human capital and economic development (pp. 61–90). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
  13. Qian, Y. (2017). Gender asymmetry in educational and income assortative marriage. Journal of Marriage and Family.
  14. Schwartz, C. R., Zeng, Z., & Xie, Y. (2016). Marrying up by marrying down: Status exchange between social origin and education in the United States. Sociological Science.
  15. Chatterjee, E., Desai, S., & Vanneman, R. (2018). Indian paradox: Rising education, declining womens’ employment. Demographic Research.
  16. Klasen, S., & Pieters, J. (2015). What explains the stagnation of female labor force participation in urban India? World Bank Economic Review.
  17. Allendorf, K., & Pandian, R. K. (2016). The decline of arranged marriage – Marital change and continuity in India. Population and Development Review.
  18. England, P., & Li, S. (2006). Desegregation stalled: The changing gender composition of college majors, 1971–2002. Gender & Society.
  19. How A Norwegian Comedian Exposed Feminist Gender Specialists – The Male Factor


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