Ethnic-Based Nuptial Regimes and Marriage Behavior in Indonesia

Alison M. Buttenheim, University of California, Los Angeles
Jenna Nobles, University of California, Los Angeles

How persistent are ethnic-based nuptial regimes in the face of rapid modernization in a developing country context? Do cultural norms related to marriage influence actual marriage behavior? In this study we use a unique dataset from Indonesia to examine the association between ethnic nuptial regimes and observed behaviors for adults born 1951-1980. Using reports from traditional law (“adat”) experts, we compare expectations for age at marriage and post-marriage residence with actual marriage behaviors. We also examine the role of education in mediating the relationship between ethnic norms and marriage behavior, given the rapid increases in educational attainment in Indonesia since the 1960s. Preliminary analyses suggest that the influence of ethnic-based norms for marriage timing has grown over time. As age at marriage increases in Indonesia due to economic development and modernization, the hazard of marriage is more responsive to ethnic-based expectations for younger cohorts.

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Presented in Session 173: Changes in Union Formation over Time