Courtship and marriage in Indonesia’s new Muslim middle class

Authored by: Nancy J. Smith-Hefner

Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Indonesia

Print publication date:  January  2018
Online publication date:  January  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138644427
eBook ISBN: 9781315628837
Adobe ISBN:


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Shifts in Indonesian marriage patterns since the 1960s have been described as nothing short of a “revolution.” Up until the 1960s, one-third of Indonesian women were married by age sixteen. By the late 1970s, only 10% of women were marrying by that age. Changes in the situation of Indonesian youth have only accelerated since the fall of the Soeharto regime in the spring of 1998. The subsequent period has seen the rapid rise of Indonesia’s middle class and the renewed interest among young people in more normative forms of Islam. The rising age of first marriage for women has been linked to women’s rising levels of education and employment. In urban areas like Jakarta and Yogyakarta, increasing numbers of educated women have begun to express anxiety about the difficulties of finding suitable marriage partners. These and related developments have had significant repercussions for contemporary patterns of youth sociability, courtship, and marriage.

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