Pakistan Institute of Development Economics

Working Paper 2022:1
Marriage Market in Pakistan Consanguinity, Educational Assortative Mating, and Fertility
Publication Year : 2022

Conventionally, consanguineous unions are preferred in the marriage market of Pakistan. Nearly half of all marriages in the country are consanguineous, with 29 and 21 percent of women marrying first cousins on their father’s and mother’s sides, respectively (NIPS, 2018). Preference for consanguineous marriages is inextricably linked to several cultural and socio-structural aspects in a society. These facets include but are not limited to, agnatic solidarity, effort to enhance familial bond, economic considerations related to dowry, family support in times of marital conflict, and relatively less independence for mate selection in a culture (Agha, 2016; Hussain 1999; Lin, Desai, & Chen 2020; Mobarak et al., 2019). The preference for a particular marital relationship could have implications on broader familial contexts and outcomes. Studies from different countries suggest a positive association of consanguineous marriages with high fertility, women’s young age at marriage, early-age childbearing, and child mortality (Fareed et al., 2017; Islam, 2012). The previous studies on consanguineous unions at the national level in Pakistan were done a long time ago (Afzal, Ali, and Siyal 1994; Hussain and Bittles, 1999, 2000). Since then, a lot has changed in terms of educational levels, gender dynamics, social norms, and practices. For example, school enrollment rates for females at the tertiary level have increased from 0.89 percent in 1992 to 8.32 percent in 2018. Similarly, education attainment for women with at least bachelor or equivalent degrees rose to 6 percent in 2015 from 2 percent in 2011 (World Bank, 2021). Despite the high prevalence of consanguineous marriages in Pakistan, little is known about the trends over time in relationship preferences, educational assortative mating, and interaction of these preferences with education, mate selection, and fertility behaviour.

Please download the PDF to view it:

Download PDF