Child Brides and Climate Variability
40 Pages Posted: 6 Sep 2022
Rates of child marriage are relatively higher in Malawi compared to its East African counterparts, with 45% of women marrying under the age of 18 in 2018. Using 2008 and 2018 census and precipitation data, we employ a difference-in-difference, machine learning strategy to examine the extent droughts contribute to the disproportionate rate of child brides. Young women exposed to droughts were 5 percentage points more likely to be married by 18 than those living in non-drought areas. Increases in early age marriage coincide with a rise in fertility (3 percentage points) and decline in the completion of primary (2 percentage points) and secondary school (1 percentage point). We show that marriage market conditions play less of a role than the overall motive to insure the origin family during droughts. Social norms around women’s inheritance may provide daughters with greater bargaining power in decisions related to reproductive health but not marriage.
Keywords: Marriage, adolescent girls and young women, Drought, Insurance, Malawi
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