Educational expansion and early marriage in India: time and regional trends

Sonia Chager, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Joan Garcia Roman, Centre d’Estudis Demogràfics (CED)
Antonio López-Gay, Centre d’Estudis Demogràfics (CED)
Albert Esteve, Centre d’Estudis Demogràfics (CED)

In India there is evidence that the prevalence of adolescent marriages has been declining modestly over the last decades. Moreover, with regards to education, the country has made considerable progress towards universal literacy and raising schooling participation. Thus, in this article we aim to document social, regional, and time trends of Indian marriage prevalence at younger ages between 1983 and 2004. We illustrate the universality of the changes that have been taking place as well as the relationship between the educational expansion and the delay in the age at first marriage. The analysis is based on Labour force survey microdata for India (1983, 1987, 1993, 1999 and 2004) made available by the Integrated Public Use of Microdata Series international project (IPUMSi). We conduct a multilevel analysis to investigate demographic trends at two levels of disaggregation: regional and individual. Consistent with previous studies, there is no sign of a retreat from marriage over time, although a delay in the age at first marriage is noted. Among women, we observe a steady and spatially homogenous decline in the proportion of ever married at younger ages (15-19) over time. Among men, the decline is less pronounced and concentrated at the age group 20-24. In general, educational expansion does seem to explain a great deal of the marriage postponement taking place in India. Nevertheless, between educational groups, a change in the behaviour among the lowest educated women has also been observed.

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Presented in Poster Session 3