Why Has Early Marriage in India Declined Sharply During 2005–2015: Role of Education Vis-à-Vis Other Factors

Abhishek Kumar, Population Council
Rajib Acharya, Population Council
Priya Nanda, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Arupendra Mozumdar , Population Council

In India, the proportion of girls getting married before age 18 years has nearly halved during 2005-2015, leading to a sharp decline in early marriage globally. Unraveling the story behind such decline has important policy implications. Using data from two rounds of National Family Health Survey conducted in India during 2005-2016, this paper examines accuracy of reporting of age at marriage and quantifies, applying Fairlie’s decomposition technique, the contribution of selected developmental and socio-demographic factors to the decline in the early marriage. Findings didn’t provide any evidence of unusual heaping of age at marriage, rather suggest that decline in the proportion of girls getting married before age 18 years is indeed a real decline. Increased education among girls contributed most to the decline (>50%), followed by improved household wealth, and media exposure. These findings may guide future policies as India committed to eradicate early marriage by 2030.

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 Presented in Session 10. Fertility, Family Planning, Sexual Behavior & Reproductive Health 2