Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Jia Gao




Marriage, Religion, Happiness, Gender Gap, Life Satisfaction


This thesis studies the effect of six major religions (Catholicism, Protestantism, Orthodoxy, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism) on the gender marriage gap and the gender gap in the happiness payoff associated with marriage. Becker (1974) developed a theory on marriage claiming that individuals seek to maximize their utility through marriage. However, in some religions, individuals are coerced into marriage or have an arranged marriage, and thus, it is unlikely that such individuals’ marriage choices reflect their preferences. This paper uses data from the World Values Survey to examine whether religious people’s marriage decisions are consistent with their preferences. The results show that religious females are 1.4 percentage points more likely to get married than nonreligious females. For example, Hindu women, the group of women who are most likely to get married, are 9.9 percentage points more likely to get married than nonreligious women. As to the gender marriage gap, in general, females are less likely to get married than males; the gap is largest among Orthodox (9.3 percentage points), and smallest for Muslims and Hindus (close to 0). The results on life satisfaction show that Hindu, Catholic, and Islamic females receive lower marriage happiness premium compared to females in other religions. Finally, my results indicate that Buddhists’ and Hindus’ marriage choices are consistent with their preferences, while for Muslims and Christians, their marriage choices do not fully reflect their preferences.