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A typical modern arranged marriage works as follows.
For both men and women, the individual’s parents or older family members screen for and find prospective mates for further consideration through their social circle, community, or by advertising on matrimonial websites or newspapers.
The first is that people that one respects and trusts, AKA parents or elders prescreen the available options, leaving a small and manageable choice set.
In free-choice marriage decisions, one of the hardest challenges is finding a good set of options to choose from.
My hunch is that what applies to IKEA furniture also applies to choosing a husband or a wife.
Those in arranged marriages were just as satisfied with their marriage and loved their partner as intensely as those who wed through free-choice. Despite criticisms of self-selection and small sample sizes leveled against some of these studies, this is the best available evidence and it suggests that Indian arranged marriages are at least as successful as free-choice ones. How can two people who barely know each other make such an important decision that will affect their joint futures so quickly?
And even more surprising, how can a decision made this way lead to positive outcomes for so many couples?
The vetting process also limits the choice set size and puts a grinding halt to further search once a choice is made.
Making others you trust do all the hard work in the choice process pays off.
One phenomenon that hasn’t changed, however, and continues to puzzle and intrigue many people (including me) is the institution of the Indian arranged marriage.