This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Early Marriage Still an Issue in India

Fertility is declining in India, but women still marry at a much earlier age than in China--the country with which India is most often compared. According to an analysis just published in International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health "as recently as 2005–2006, almost half (47%) of a nationally representative sample of women aged 20–24 reported having married before age 18.The proportion is between 50% and 70% in several states." Moreover, early marriage not only leads to higher than average fertility, it also leads to a generally worse life for women. In a survey of 8,314 married women aged 20-24 living in five Indian states, K.G. Santhya and her associates found that:
Young women who had married at age 18 or older were more likely than those who had married before age 18 to have been involved in planning their marriage (odds ratio, 1.4), to reject wife beating (1.2), to have used contraceptives to delay their first pregnancy (1.4) and to have had their first birth in a health facility (1.4). They were less likely than women who had married early to have experienced physical violence (0.6) or sexual violence (0.7) in their marriage or to have had a miscarriage or stillbirth (0.6). 
Policy planners in India understand the importance of delaying marriage, but deeply entrenched cultural attitudes among parents about their daughters are not easy to change.

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