In India, English has become a status symbol for the wealthy and educated middle class, while at the same time creating a divide between those who speak it and those who do not. This study examines the social returns to English language skills in the marriage market in urban India by conducting a correspondence experiment on an online matrimonial website. I find that indicating strong English language skills in a profile increases the number of people interested in the profile by 38%. Further, the probability of matching with a high-caste man (marry-up) increased by 57.7 percentage points when a low-caste female profile mentions English proficiency. The results suggest that English language proficiency can expand one’s choice of potential marriage partners in the marriage market and help overcome caste barriers.

, , , , , ,
Bedi, Arjun Singh
Economics of Development (ECD)
International Institute of Social Studies

Miyamoto, Tomohisa. (2021, December 17). English language lremium in a marriage market. Economics of Development (ECD). Retrieved from