A Marriage-Driven MBA Boom?

indian wedding

Can an MBA Improve Your Marriage Prospects?


An MBA helps you in many ways. It opens doors during a job hunt. It increases earning power. It confers greater credibility. For a few, adding “MBA” after their names on LinkedIn is a real ego boost.

In one country, an MBA offers an additional benefit: marriage. For years, Americans have joked that women enter business school to earn their “Mrs.” degrees. Heck, Columbia b-school students even turned that sentiment into a hilarious Beyonce parody.

But in India, MBAs are like muscle cars. Forget Match.com. MBAs symbolize status, stability, and sovereignty.

Winston Churchill once quipped that Russia was a “riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” The same could be said of India. A mishmash of customs, classes, and clans, you can never quite get a finger on its pulse. It is always a step in one direction and a step in the other, with the modern rubbing against the Mughal. Still, it’s clear that with arranged marriages common—and one’s name and station paramount—MBAs have great importance in Indian culture.

Gouray Rakshit, CEO of Shaadi.com, a leading matrimonial site in India, tells The Financial Times that an MBA represents more than intellect and capabilities. “I guess it goes to breeding—people see that as a very powerful indicator of the individual or family they’re marrying into.” To women, an MBA is a measuring stick for the employment prospects and earning power of potential partners. Even more, according to Bibek Banerjee, director of the Institute of Management Technology Ghaziabad, an MBA signals to women whether they’re expected to handle traditional female roles or enjoy greater freedom within their social classes. For men, a spouse with an MBA can reflect a higher living standard (and increased security). In some cases, an MBA can help men fetch a higher dowry, too.

But there’s another factor driving MBA marriages: demographics. If you believe demographics are destiny, here is a stat to remember: According to the last census, there are 940 women for every 1000 men in India. That might explain why there is an MBA boom there. Enrollments have nearly tripled from 2008 to 2012, rising from 114,803 to 313,920 students, according to the All India Council for Technical Education, an accreditation body.

The boom has resulted in a surplus of MBAs, turning the degree into a commodity and diluting its value to marriage partners. If you accept the premise that a spike in unemployed and unmarried men sparks unrest, then this shift could eventually produce larger social consequences.

For the moment, let’s just savor that MBAs are finally getting some love… instead of the blame for every social and economic calamity.

Source: Financial Times

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