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Marriage Age, Social Status, and Intergenerational Effects in Uganda
Authors: Naveen Sunder
Source: Demography, 56(6): 2123–2146; DOI: 10.1007/s13524-019-00829-8
Topic(s): Anemia
Body Mass Index (BMI)
Child marriage
Women's status
Country: Africa
Published: DEC 2019
Abstract: This study examines whether Ugandan women who marry at younger ages fare differently on a wide range of later-life outcomes than women who marry at later ages. Using a nationally representative data set, I identify the plausibly causal impacts of women’s marriage age by using age at menarche as an instrumental variable. Results indicate that a one-year delay in marriage for Ugandan women leads to higher educational attainment (0.5–0.75 years), literacy (10 percentage points), and labor force participation (8 percentage points). I also explore intergenerational effects of later marriage and find that the children of mothers who marry later have higher BMI (0.11 kg/m2) and hemoglobin levels (0.18 g/dl), and they are also less likely to be anemic (4 percentage points). Finally, I present evidence suggesting that the observed effects might be mediated through an enhancement of women’s agency within their household and positive assortative matching in the marriage market. By pointing to the beneficial consequences of delaying marriage, this research calls for concerted policy action to prevent child marriage. Keywords Economic development Marriageage Uganda Education Intergenerational effects