Child-bride marriage and female welfare
- 802 Downloads
“Child-bride marriage”—the marriage of prepubescent girls to adult men—has well-known nefarious consequences for females in developing countries where such marriage is often practiced. To improve these outcomes, developing-world governments have adopted several policies aimed at raising female marriage age. This paper investigates the effects of these policies for females in developing countries where parents strongly prefer sons to daughters. I find that raising female marriage age in such countries may have the unintended consequence of increasing the prevalence of female infanticide and sex-selective abortion. Where parents strongly prefer sons to daughters, some parents seek to dispose of their unwanted daughters through child-bride marriage, female infanticide, or sex-selective abortion. By raising the cost of child-bride marriage relative to infanticide or abortion, policies that raise female marriage age induce such parents to substitute the latter disposal methods for the former. I evaluate one such policy in Haryana, India and find empirical support for this prediction. My analysis suggests that from the perspective of female welfare, child-bride marriage may be a second-best institution, or constrained optimum, in developing countries that exhibit strong son preference.
KeywordsChild brides Female welfare Minimum marriage-age Conditional-cash transfer Educational program Infanticide Abortion
JEL ClassificationD10 131 J18
I thank Peter Leeson, Chris Coyne, the Editors, and two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments and suggestions. I gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and the Classical Liberal Institute at New York University School of Law.
- Amin, S., & Sedgh, G. (1998). Incentive schemes for school attendance in rural Bangladesh. Policy Research Division Working Paper No. 106. New York: Population Council.Google Scholar
- Arends-Kuenning, M., & Amin, S. (2000). The effects of schooling incentive programs on resource allocation in Bangladesh. Policy Research Division Working Paper No. 106. New York: Population Council.Google Scholar
- Arnold, F. (1997). Gender preferences for children. Demographic and Health Surveys, Comparative Studies No. 23.Google Scholar
- Arnold, F., & Parasuraman, S. (2009). The effect of ultrasound testing during pregnancy on pregnancy termination and the sex ratio at birth in India. Paper presented at the XXVI International Population Conference, International Union for the Scientific Study of Population, Marrakech, Morocco.Google Scholar
- Arokiasami, P., & Goli, S. (2012). Explaining the skewed child sex ratio in rural India: Revisiting the landholding-patriarchy hypothesis. Economic and Political Weekly, 47, 85–94.Google Scholar
- Banerjee, A., & Piketty, T. (2006). Are the rich growing richer: Evidence from the indian tax data. In A. Deaton & V. Kozel (Eds.), The Great Indian Poverty debate: 520–529. Delhi: Macmillan India Ltd.Google Scholar
- Barcellos, S. H., Carvalho, L., & Lleras-Muney, A. (2012). Child gender and parental investments in India: Are boys and girls treated differently? NBER Working Paper No. 17781.Google Scholar
- Becker, G. S. (1960). An economic analysis of fertility. NBER’s demographic and economic change in developed countries (pp. 209–240). New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
- Becker, G. S. (1992). A treatise on the family. Enlarged edition. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Bhanji, S. M., & Punjani, N. S. (2014). Determinants of child (early) marriages among young girls: A public health issue. Journal of Women’s Health Care, 3, 3.Google Scholar
- Bruce, J. (2003). Married adolescent girls: Human rights, health, and developmental needs of a neglected majority. Economic and Political Weekly, 38, 378–380.Google Scholar
- Chari, A., Heath, R., Maertens, A., & Fatima, F. (2015). The effect of early cohabitation on maternal and child outcomes: Evidence from India. Mimeo: University of Sussex.Google Scholar
- Choe, M. K., Thapa, S., & Achmad, S. I. (2001). Early marriage and childbearing in indonesia and Nepal. East-West Center Working Paper No. 108-15.Google Scholar
- Cleland, J., Verrall, J., & Vaessen, M. (1983). Preferences for the sex of children and their influence on reproductive behavior. World Fertility Survey, Comparative Studies No. 27.Google Scholar
- DHS. (1990–1999). Demographic and health surveys (various) [datasets]. Calverton, MD: ICF International [Distributor].Google Scholar
- DHS. (2000–2009). Demographic and health surveys (various) [datasets]. Calverton, MD: ICF International [Distributor].Google Scholar
- Economic Times. (2011). How much it costs to raise a child. The Economic Times Wealth, April 18, 2011. http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/photo.cms?msid=7998976.
- Garenne, M. (2004). Age at marriage and modernisation in sub-Saharan Africa. Southern African Journal of Demography, 9, 59–79.Google Scholar
- Government of India Planning Commission. (2014). Report of the expert group to review the methodology for measurement of poverty. New Delhi, India.Google Scholar
- Grossman, S. (2016). How this female chief broke up 850 child marriages in Malawi. April 1. The Huffington Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/woman-chief-breaks-up-850-child-marriages-in-malawi_us_56fd51c2e4b0a06d580510da?ir=Good+News&.
- Hui, L., & Blanchard, B. (2014). China’s unwanted babies once mostly girls, now mostly sick, disabled. February 3. Reuters. http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/02/03/us-china-babies-idUSBREA110M120140203.
- Islam, M. N., & Ahmed, A. U. (1998). Age at first marriage and its determinants in Bangladesh. Asian-Pacific Population Journal, 13, 73–92.Google Scholar
- Kebede, G., Asnake, M., Alemu, B., & Deneke, K. (2007). Causes and consequences of early marriage in Amhara Region of Ethiopia. Watertown, MA: Pathfinder International/Ethiopia.Google Scholar
- Klaus, D., & Tipandjan, A. (2015). Son preference in India: Shedding light on the north-south gradient. Comparative Population Studies, 40, 77–102.Google Scholar
- Landesa. (2013). Security of girls through land: Pilot evaluation (2012–2013). Landesa Rural Development Institute.Google Scholar
- Leeson, P. T., & Suarez, P. A. (2016). Child brides. Mimeo: George Mason University.Google Scholar
- Malhotra, A., Warner, A., McGonagle, A., & Lee-Rife, S. (2011). Solutions to end child marriage: What the evidence shows. Washington, DC: ICRW.Google Scholar
- MAMTA. (2013). Biennial report 2011–2013: Energising a Brighter Tomorrow. New Delhi: MAMTA Health Institute for Mother and Child.Google Scholar
- McNeish, H. (2016). Malawi’s fearsome chief, terminator of child marriages. March 31. Al Jazeera. http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2016/03/malawi-fearsome-chief-terminator-child-marriages-160316081809603.html.
- Mensch, B. S., Singh. S., & Casterline, J. B. (2005). Trends in the timing of first marriage among men and women in the developing world. Population Council, Policy Research Division Working Paper No. 202.Google Scholar
- Miller, B. D. (1987). Female infanticide and child neglect in rural North India. In N. Scheper-Hughes (Ed.), Child survival: Anthropological perspectives on the treatment and maltreatment of children (pp. 95–112). Boston: D. Reidel Publishing Co.Google Scholar
- Mitra, A. (2014). Son preference in India: Implications for gender development. Journal of Economic Issues, 48, 1021–1037.Google Scholar
- Mutharayappa, R., Choe, M. K., Arnold, F., & Roy, T. K. (1997). Son preference and its effect on fertility in India. National Family Health Survey, Subject Reports No. 3.Google Scholar
- Nanda, P., Das, P., Datta, N., Gopalakrishnan, L., Achyut, P., & Mishra, A. (2015). Do conditional cash transfers have an effect on girls’ delayed age of marriage status? Findings from an Evaluation Study in North India. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting Program of the Population Association of America, San Diego, CA.Google Scholar
- Nanda, P., Datta, N., & Das, P. (2014a). Impact of conditional cash transfers on girls’ education. Washington, DC: ICRW.Google Scholar
- Nanda, P., Datta, N., Das, P., Mishra, A., Achyut, P., & Patel, R. (2014). Looking at conditional cash transfers as solutions to early marriage: An analysis from evaluation survey in North India. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting Program of the Population Association of America, Boston, MA.Google Scholar
- NFHS-1. (1995). National Family Health Survey (MCH and Family Planning), India 1992–93 [Dataset]. Bombay: International Institute for Population Sciences [Producers]. ICF International [Distributor].Google Scholar
- NFHS-2. (2000). National Family Health Survey (NFHS-2), 1998–99: India [Dataset]. Mumbai: International Institute for Population Sciences and Macro International [Producers]. ICF International [Distributor].Google Scholar
- NFHS-3. (2007). National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3), 2005–06: India: Volumes I and II [Dataset]. Mumbai: International Institute for Population Sciences and Macro International [Producers]. ICF International [Distributor].Google Scholar
- Nour, N. M. (2009). Child marriage: A silent health and human rights issue. Reviews in Obstetrics and Gynecology, 2, 51–56.Google Scholar
- Pande, R., & Malhotra, A. (2006). Son preference and daughter neglect in India: What happens to living girls?. Washington, DC: ICRW.Google Scholar
- Rosenzweig, M., & Schultz, P. (1982). Market opportunities, genetic endowments, and intrafamily resource distribution: Child survival in rural India. American Economic Review, 72, 803–815.Google Scholar
- Roy, T. K. (2008). Determinants of early marriage in Rajshahi, Bangladesh. Pakistan Journal of Social Sciences, 5, 606–611.Google Scholar
- Russell, B. (2007). The mystery of China’s orphans. February 1. The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/01/opinion/01iht-edrussell.html.
- Sarkar, P. (2009). Determinants of early marriage in Bangladesh, 2007. Research Journal of Applied Sciences, 4, 178–184.Google Scholar
- Savitridina, R. (1997). Determinants and consequences of early marriage in Java, Indonesia. Asia-Pacific Population Journal, 12, 25–48.Google Scholar
- Sekher, T. V. (2012). Skewed sex ratios, conditional cash transfers and promotion of girl children: The Indian experience. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting Program of the Population Association of America, San Francisco, CA.Google Scholar
- Sekher, T. V., & Hatti, N. (2005). Discrimination of female children in modern India: From conception through childhood. Paper presented at the XXV International Population Conference, International Union for the Scientific Study of Population, Tours, France.Google Scholar
- Singh, S., & Samara, R. (1996). Early marriage among women in developing countries. International Family Planning Perspectives, 22(148–157), 175.Google Scholar
- Sinha, N., & Yoong, J. (2009). Long-term financial incentives and investments in daughters. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 4860.Google Scholar
- Thurston, A. (1996). In a Chinese orphanage. April. The Atlantic Monthly. http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1996/04/in-a-chinese-orphanage/376563/.
- UNICEF. (2005). Early marriage: A harmful traditional practice. New York: UNICEF.Google Scholar
- UNICEF. (2014). State of the world’s children 2015: Reimagine the future: Innovation for every child. New York: United Nations Children’s Fund.Google Scholar
- UNSD. (2013). Indicators on women and men. Table 3a: Legal age for marriage. United Nations Statistics Division. http://unstats.un.org/unsd/demographic/products/indwm/default.htm.
- Vanneman, R., Desai, S. B., & Vikram, K. (2012). Son preference in India. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Population Association of America, San Francisco, CA.Google Scholar
- Williamson, N. E. (1976). Sons or daughters: A cross-cultural survey of parental preferences. Beverly Hills: Sage.Google Scholar
- Xue, M. M. (2015). Textiles and the historical emergence of gender equality in China. Los Angeles, Mimeo: University of California.Google Scholar