Sanitation and Marriage Markets in India: Evidence from the Total Sanitation Campaign


  • Documentos de Trabajo Universidad del Rosario


  • This paper analyses the marriage decisions of men and women, focusing on the added attractiveness of sanitation within the living arrangement, in rural India. We exploit district and time variation from the Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) which increased sanitation by 6.6 percent among households with marriage eligible children and generated an exogenous increase in the composition of households with sanitation. Using data from the Indian Human Development household survey (IHDS) and district level census, we show that exposure to TSC increased the probability of marriage for men and women, from poorer households, by 3.8 pp and 6.5 pp respectively. The reduced form estimates incorporate both general equilibrium effects and heterogeneous program effects – two important components of equilibrium marital behavior. To decompose the overall policy impact on marriage market equilibrium we formulate a simple matching model where men and women match on observed and unobserved characteristics. Through model simulations, we show that cohorts within TSC exposed markets experienced a shift in marital gains both across matches but also within a given match. Specifically, the resultant sorting patterns display a marked gender asymmetry with an increase in marital surplus among matches where men are wealthier than their spouse, and a decrease in surplus where the wife is wealthier. Moreover, the increased access to sanitation for TSC exposed women implied a decline in their expected control over resources within the marriage.

fecha de publicación

  • 2021

Enfoque geográfico

Líneas de investigación

  • Empirical matching
  • Marriage markets
  • Sanitation
  • Sorting


  • 19624