Between Tradition and Modernity: Marriage Dynamics in Kyrgyzstan

Lesia Nedoluzhko, Victor Agadjanian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


The demographic literature on union formation in post-communist Europe typically documents retreat from marriage and increase in cohabitation. However, sociological and anthropological studies of post-Soviet Central Asia often point to a resurgence of various traditional norms and practices, including those surrounding marriage, that were suppressed under Soviet rule. We engage these two perspectives on union formation by analyzing transition to first marriage in Kyrgyzstan both before and after the collapse of the USSR. We use uniquely detailed marriage histories from a nationally representative survey conducted in the period 2011–2012 to examine the dynamics of traditional marital practices among that country’s two main ethnic groups—Kyrgyz and Uzbeks—focusing on trends in arranged marriages and in marriages involving bride kidnapping. The analysis reveals instructive ethnic and period differences but also indicates an overall decline in the risks of both types of traditional marriage practices in the post-Soviet era. In fact, although the decline has characterized all marriage types, it was more substantial for traditional marriages. We interpret these trends as evidence of continuing modernization of nuptiality behavior in the region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)861-882
Number of pages22
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 13 2015


  • Central Asia
  • Event-history analysis
  • Modernization
  • Nuptiality
  • Traditional marriage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography


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