PIDE research highlights significance of inter-ethnic marriages in Pakistan

F.P. Report

PESHAWAR: Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) new research highlighted the significance of inter-ethnic marriages in Pakistan, a country with a diverse ethnic spectrum.

The research findings from the PIDE BASICS 1 survey indicate that such marriages play a crucial role in promoting assimilation, social cohesion, and stability, thereby blurring tensions arising from ethnic differences, said a press release here on Sunday.

Language, closely tied to ethnic background, has a profound impact on personal identities, which can sometimes be divisive and undermine unity within the larger identity.

The survey employed a new approach to measure ethnic exogamy and homogamy by asking respondents three questions related to the ethnic backgrounds of their parents and the language spoken in their everyday lives.

The results revealed that only a small proportion (1.5%) of marriages in Pakistan are ethnically exogamous, indicating a strong trend of intra-ethnic marriages.

However, slight variations exist among different languages, with Urdu, Potohari, Brahui, and Brushaski showing slightly higher rates of exogamy. Additionally, gender differences were observed in languages such as Urdu, Shina, and Kashmiri.

The study also examined the language preferences of children in families with different ethnic backgrounds and found that when parents share the same ethnicity, 92.3% of children spoke the same language as their parents.

However, children of exogamous parents exhibited a mixed pattern, with some languages influenced more by the mother’s language and others by the father’s language. These findings shed light on the role of inter-ethnic marriages and language dynamics in Pakistan’s social fabric.

According to a press release issued from the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE), Pro Vice-Chancellor Dr. Durre Nayab said while describing the details of the PIDE BASICS Notes 8 that the latest research findings revealed that to capture the prevalence of ethnic exogamy, or homogamy, in Pakistan, the PIDE BASICS 1 survey asked questions in a new way to give a better insight into the issue.

In most surveys, language is captured by asking the respondents about the language they speak, and the response to this question is taken as representing their ethnic background. This is misleading, and the results of the BASICS survey confirm this distortion in interpretation. PIDE Pro VC said that in her latest PIDE Notes 8 that looking at the trends of language homogamy and exogamy by region, province, age, education, and income.

We see in the findings of the study that only 1.5% of the marriages in Pakistan are ethnically exogamous. Ethnic exogamy is more prevalent in urban Pakistan (1.9%) than in rural but only by a very small margin. Among the provinces, Balochistan shows the highest proportion of language exogamy (4.1%), and Punjab is the lowest (0.9%).