Too educated for love? Women and the marriage market in Indonesia
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Citation (published version)N. Smith-Hefner. 2018. "Too Educated for Love? Women and the Marriage Market in Indonesia." https://www.bu.edu/cura/henry-luce-foundation-funding/cura-luce-seminar-series-on-key-issues-in-religion-and-world-affairs/. Love Stories: Youth Aspirations and the New Ethics of Intimacy. Boston University, CURA, 2018-10-19 - 2018-10-19.
Indonesia is among the shrinking number of Asian countries demographers identify as following a pattern of “universal marriage,” defined as a country in which fewer than 4% of women over the age of 40 have never married (G. Jones 2004). The marital imperative weighs particularly heavily on young women. Those who reach the age of 25 without finding a partner are considered to be “unmarketable” and placed in the category of “old maid.” Women who put off marriage to pursue an education are in an especially precarious position; since most Indonesian men look to marry “down” with regard to age and education, educated women face the challenge of finding someone who is an appropriate match in a narrowing field of candidates. They also face the perception held by at least some men, that educated women will assume a dominant position within the family. This paper presents the life stories of four educated Javanese women and examines the hurdles they face in finding and securing a marital partner. Although young Indonesians have embraced the idea of romantic love as the proper foundation for a modern, companionate marriage, and it is widely accepted that youth should make their own choice of “soul mate” (jodoh), educated women are finding it increasingly difficult to meet their match.