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Social change, premarital nonfamily experiences, and marital dynamics


Institute for Social Research, The University of Michigan, 426 Thompson Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48106-1248 (


We investigate the effects of nonfamily experiences on marital relationships in a setting characterized by high levels of arranged marriage until recently. Drawing on theoretical frameworks for the study of families and social change, we argue that the expansion of opportunities for nonfamily experiences will increase the likelihood of marital relationships based on an emotional bond between husbands and wives. Using data from 3,724 individuals in rural Nepal, we find consistent effects of educational experiences across multiple dimensions of marriage. These effects point toward the spread of education as a stimulus to marriages characterized by higher levels of love and discussions between spouses, and lower levels of conflict and spouse abuse. Results suggest that studies of marital dynamics in non-Western settings provide a fruitful avenue for new research on marriage.

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