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Child Brides in India by Shirley Johnson-Lans and Patricia Jones (2011)

This paper investigates the determinants of child marriage using a new data set from rural India. Specifically, we focus on an extreme form of child marriage--that is, the marriage of girls under the age of ten. No other study to our knowledge has examined the factors influencing the likelihood of such early marriage. Our model estimates the relative importance of economic factors and social norms in determining the prevalence of child marriage. Our findings reveal that the probability of a girl becoming married before her 10th birthday is highly correlated with the prevalence of child marriage within her own caste and village, even after controlling for household and village characteristics. Surprisingly, economic variables--such as household income and relative poverty status--do not significantly affect the likelihood of becoming a child bride.

Key Words: Child Marriage, Social influence, Family Economics, Asia, India

JEL Classifications: J12, D83, D13

Working Paper (684K, PDF)