Arranged marriages might be a bit of a foreign concept in the United States and much of the Western world, but it is a fairly common practice in other parts of the world. India, Africa, and portions of the Middle East all see having family members arranging a marriage as more of an organic process than having two people meet through random chance.
Arranged marriages have an average divorce rate of just 4%.
Arranged Marriage Statistics
Just because divorce rates are low doesn’t necessarily mean that people are actually happy more often in an arranged marriage. Many of the cultures that have these marriages also do not support divorce in almost any circumstance, which further alters the potential statistics with a local bias. Even so, there are some statistics about arranged marriages that shouldn’t be ignored.
- 55% of the marriages that occur in the world today are arranged marriages.
- The rate of arranged marriages in India is 90%.
- In an arranged marriage, the man is usually 4.5 years older than the woman in the formed relationship.
- 48% of the girls who are involved in an arranged marriage in South Asia are under the age of 18.
- The percentage of girls who live in Niger who are involved in an arranged marriage before the age of 15: 26%.
- The divorce rate in India is just 1.1%.
- In some countries, the man or woman can refuse a selected spouse.
The problem with an arranged marriage isn’t the concept necessarily, but the implementation. For girls below the age of 15, there is a good possibility that their physical bodies aren’t even mature enough to accept the consummation of a marriage. Excusing a western view on marriage when looking at these specific cultural norms, the divorce rate is encouraging, but not necessarily a valid statistic. After all, there are laws on the books that cause women to be stoned if they try to leave a marriage. If such a law was in place in the United States, the divorce rates would definitely be lower too.
What Should You Know About Arranged Marriages?
- Arranged marriages are viewed as a social and economic necessity so that both families can continue to economically thrive.
- There is a difference between an arranged and a forced marriage. Up to 80% of the marriages in Afghanistan are forced. A majority of the marriages in India, however, are arranged where refusal is possible.
- For many couples, they may meet each other for only 15 minutes before the marriage ceremony actually occurs.
- Parents aren’t the only participants in an arranged marriage. Uncles, aunts, and other extended family may be involved.
- If a divorce occurs from an arranged marriage, it is not uncommon for both families to disown the person they feel may be at fault for the relationship issues.
- Women in India who have an arranged marriage may have up to 8 children in a common relationship.
- It is more common for women who are unhappy with their marriage to poison themselves rather than seek a divorce.
- In some parts of South Asia, dowry and caste systems are very much playing its part in arranged marriages in rural areas.
Feeling so trapped and worthless must be horrible beyond comprehension, yet thousands of spouses feel this way because of their culture. Rather than seek out help or to proceed through a divorce, there is less shame in committing suicide than there is in seeking safety and shelter somewhere else. This is the hidden issue within an arranged marriage, but to be fair, it happens in all types of marriages as well. There are still many who condemn divorce in almost all circumstances. They may not be the majority any more, but they are still loud enough to be influential.
Do Arranged Marriages Affect Western Culture?
- 86% of Indian population demographic in US are still marrying someone they have met within their community.
- 14 million girls are married before the age of 18 every year.
- The percentage of girls who get married before the age of 18 in industrialized or modern countries: 67%.
- 1 out of every 9 girls in the developing world is married before the age of 15.
- Girls who give birth to their first child before the age of 15 are 5 times more likely to die during the delivery of the child than women who are in their 20s.
- There is an increased risk of HIV and AIDS transmission when young arranged marriages are enforced.
- Girls who are in an arranged or forced marriage before the age of 18 are more likely to describe their first sexual experience as a forced experience.
- Despite all of this, up to 85% of parents believe that their children will have a better life than they had themselves.
- People in the United States are 5 times more likely to be married 3 or more times than people in India are to be divorced just once.
In many cultures, having girls marry young means a bride payment is coming to the family and that is money that is needed. In Iran, for example, 99% of the arranged marriages that occur involved a bride payment. The family might benefit in such a culture, but the girls do not often benefit much at all. They often drop out of school, especially if the marriage occurs before the age of 18, and are more likely to remain in poverty over the course of their lives. They have greater health risks and even if there is love present, there is still a higher chance of violence occurring. With 2 out of 3 girls getting married as a teen in industrialized or westernized nations, it isn’t necessarily a foreign culture that has an arranged marriage any more. It could be our very own culture.