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Early marriage in Bangladesh: Not as early as it appears
Authors: Peter Kim Streatfield, Nahid Kamal, Karar Zunaid Ahsan, and Quamrun Nahar
Source: Asian Population Studies, 11(1):94-110, DOI: 10.1080/17441730.2015.1012785
Topic(s): Dowry
Women's status
Country: Asia
Published: FEB 2015
Abstract: Using Matlab demographic surveillance data (HDSS), we assess if misreporting of age at marriage could be contributing to the apparent persistence of early marriage in Bangladesh. A random sample of 1766 women aged 15–29 born in HDSS area was selected. Almost two-thirds misreported their age at marriage, but not randomly—56 percent under-reported while seven percent over-reported their age at first marriage. Among the currently married group aged 20–24, the reported mean age at first marriage was 16.8 years, comparable to 16.6 years given by Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey 2011 for the same age group. However a cross-check with their actual dates of birth recorded in the Matlab HDSS database reveals that the true mean age at first marriage was 18.6 years—giving an average difference of almost two years between reported and actual ages at marriage. The paper identifies rising dowry as a likely determinant of age misreporting. KEYWORDS • early marriage, • age misreporting, • dowry, • female education, • Bangladesh