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Intergenerational Education Effects of Early Marriage in Sub-Saharan Africa

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Delprato, M 
Akyeampong, K 
Dunne, M 


This paper analyzes the evolution of the effects on educational inequality of early marriage by looking at the impact of whether women had married young on their children’s schooling outcomes for 25–32 countries (Demographic and Health Surveys) in 2000 and 2010 for Sub-Saharan Africa. We also explore indirect pathways—mother’s education, health, and empowerment as well as community channels—operating from early marriage to child schooling and assess the presence of negative externalities for non-early married mothers and their children on education transmission in communities with large rates of child marriage. In our econometric analysis we employ OLS, matching, instrumental variables, and pseudo-panel for a better understanding of changes over time. Our results show that early marriage is still a significant source of inequality, though its impact has decreased across time: girls born to early married mothers are between 6% and 11% more likely to never been to school and 1.6% and 1.7% to enter late, and 3.3% and 5.1% less likely to complete primary school, whereas boys are between 5.2% and 8.8% more likely to never been to school and 1% and 1.9% to enter late, and 2.3% and 5.5% less likely to complete primary school. Second, child marriage increases gender inequality within household’s with girls losing an additional 0.07 years of schooling as compared to boys if born to early married mothers. Third, our estimates show that mother’s education and health mediate some of the effect of early marriage and that the large prevalence of child marriage in a community also impairs educational transmission for non-early married mothers. Fourth, empowering of young wives can weaken other channels of transmission of education inequalities. Overall, our findings highlight the need to target these children with the appropriate interventions and support to achieve the greater focus on equity in the global post-2015 education agenda.



early marriage, intergenerational transmission, education, community, empowerment, Sub-Saharan Africa

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World Development

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