Marriage Timing in Sri Lanka: The Role of Modern Norms and Ideas

Anju Malhotra, Amy Ong Tsui

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


This article contributes empirical evidence to the critique of modernization theory, which continues to underpin much social research on non-Western societies despite the frequent and open challenges to its legitimacy and ability in predicting family change. Our analysis employs longitudinal data, focus group information, and event history models to examine the timing of marriage for a cohort of young women in Sri Lanka. We argue that despite the infusion of modern ideational factors, family organization, interests, and cultural prescriptions have a substantial role to play in determining when young Sri Lankan women enter marriage. The results support our contention that the process of social change does not involve a linear shift from a consistent, packaged set of traditional conditions to modern ones, but rather a more complex interaction and coexistence of these two sets of values. Our results indicate that family and cultural factors continue to be important in determining marriage timing for the present generation of young women in Sri Lanka.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)476-490
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Marriage and Family
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Marriage norms
  • Modernization theory
  • Sri Lanka
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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