Smart, Responsible, and Upper Caste Only: Measuring Caste Attitudes through Large-Scale Analysis of Matrimonial Profiles
Discriminatory caste attitudes currently stigmatize millions of Indians, subjecting individuals to prejudice in all aspects of life. Governmental incentives and societal movements have attempted to counter these attitudes, yet accurate measurements of public opinions on caste are not yet available for understanding whether progress is being made. Here, we introduce a novel approach to measure public attitudes of caste through an indicator variable: openness to intercaste marriage. Using a massive dataset of over 313K profiles from a major Indian matrimonial site, we precisely quantify public attitudes, along with differences between generations and between Indian residents and diaspora. We show that younger generations are more open to intercaste marriage, yet attitudes are based on a complex function of social status beyond their own caste. In examining the desired qualities in a spouse, we find that individuals open to intercaste marriage are more individualistic in the qualities they desire, rather than favoring family-related qualities, which mirrors larger societal trends away from collectivism. Finally, we show that attitudes in diaspora are significantly less open, suggesting a bi-cultural model of integration. Our research provides the first empirical evidence identifying how various intersections of identity shape attitudes toward intercaste marriage in India and among the Indian diaspora in the US.