Is “Right to Education (RTE) Act” Key to Recent Decline in Early Marriage Among Girls in India?

Ankita Shukla , International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS)
Rajib Acharya, Population Council

The present paper is an effort to examine whether enactment of Government of India’s “Right to Education Act” (RTE) has any role to play in sharp decline in early marriages in the country. In the year 2009, India launched the RTE Act providing free and compulsory education for children aged 6-14 years. Comparison of girl’s enrolment rate from before and after enacting RTE shows that the enrolment increased substantially among girls aged 6-14 years, especially in the vulnerable population and in states where enrolment rates were poor. An event history analysis performed with NFHS 4 data using RTE as an instrument, confirms that RTE has been effective not only in increasing girl’s school enrolment but also in reducing the risk of early marriage. These findings reinforce the importance of girls’ education in reducing prevalence of child marriage and role of effective national policies to bring about positive social changes.

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 Presented in Session 4. Marriage, Family, Households, & Unions