Age of Marriage and Women's Political Engagement: Evidence from India
14 Pages Posted: 30 May 2019
Date Written: May 5, 2019
Although decades have passed since most women in the democratic world gained the right to vote and run for elections, a large gender gap in political participation persists today, particularly in developing democracies. This short paper considers an important --- and heretofore overlooked --- factor limiting the political engagement of many women in the developing world: her age of marriage. Drawing on nationally representative data from India and instrumenting marriage age with menarche age, we find substantial positive effects of delaying marriage on women's participation in everyday politics. A standard deviation increase in marriage age makes a woman 36.2 percent more likely to attend a village meeting, and 6.2 percent more likely discusses politics with her husband. Exploring mechanisms, we show that education and time --- rather than employment and mobility --- are the main channels of impact. These findings underscore the importance of early marriage as a critical barrier to women's participation in the political sphere.
Keywords: Gender, Politics, India
JEL Classification: D72, F63
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation