For India’s youngest adults, marriage is no longer the first priority

Living their best life.
Living their best life.
Image: Reuters/Jayanta Dey
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For generations, Indians have been primed to only seek their “settled, happily-ever-afters.” But that seems to be becoming a thing of the past now.

Most young Indians aged between 18 and 25 say “being myself” is their top priority over a five-year horizon, according to recent research by the dating app Tinder. In fact, marriage or financial stability did not even make it to the top five priorities among the youth.

The survey sample included 2,000 male and female respondents across India’s top 20 cities.

“With education levels and urban mobility rising, Gen Z wants to be independent and have the freedom to explore career fits, relationships, interactions, self expression, self-identity and the direction they want their life to take,” according to the Tinder study, published on Jan. 09.

“In our social narrative, there always has been a lot of focus on ‘goals’ and ‘successes’—the perfect life partner, the settled career path, the house, the car or whatever it is that one aspires to,” Taru Kapoor, Tinder’s India head, said.

But even now, for those approaching their mid-twenties, getting a good job becomes a key priority.

That’s perhaps a concern because in India, unemployment among youth and those with higher education stands at a staggering 16%. By 2050, as more than 280 million people enter India’s job market, the struggle to secure employment will be more rampant, a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report says.

Still, new-age Indians prioritise “pursuing a career in a field they are passionate about” and they “prefer to date as a way to learn more about themselves,” the report said. “For both men and women, getting married and having kids rank fairly low on their five year-goals lists and aspirations. So does accumulating assets—they would much rather collect experiences.”

Tapping into this generation’s carefree attitude, Tinder has even created a commercial for India called ”Adulting Can Wait.” The app-makers also launched meme-based outdoor advertising with the same theme.

Though the findings apply to both men and women, Tinder’s research also found that women in India, who have conventionally faced much more pressure to adhere to social expectations and norms, are allowed less time than men to “settle down.” Nearly two-thirds of women surveyed indicated their desire to work hard to achieve self-identified goals as a top priority.