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The relationship between religious belief and spousal choice in Nepal is examined, looking at how the importance that individuals place on their own religious faith…
The relationship between religious belief and spousal choice in Nepal is examined, looking at how the importance that individuals place on their own religious faith influences their decision either to allow their parents and other relatives to arrange a marriage for them or to initiate their own love marriage. How the importance attached to religious faith within the individual’s family and neighborhood affects this decision, and how education modifies the relationship between religion and spousal choice are also looked at.
Ordinary least squares regression models are used to examine the relationship between spousal choice and key independent variables. Interaction terms are used to examine how education may moderate the relationship between personal, family, and neighborhood religious salience and spousal choice.
It is found that the effect of one’s neighbors’ faith operates differently based on one’s own level of education. The “moral communities” thesis is used to theorize that in neighborhoods where religion is regarded as very important, individuals need to expend more effort to maintain respectability, adhering to tradition by having arranged marriages. In neighborhoods where religion is less important, the weaker demands made by the “moral community” render individuals more free to choose their own spouses. For highly educated individuals, the effect of their neighbors’ religious belief is considerably reduced.
As Nepalis become more educated, they not only move out of the sphere of family influence, as discussed in previous research, but also away from being influenced by their neighbors.