Format

Send to

Choose Destination
Soc Sci Med. 2017 Jul;185:91-101. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2017.05.027. Epub 2017 May 11.

Girl child marriage as a risk factor for early childhood development and stunting.

Author information

1
Department of Global Health and Population, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, 665 Huntington Ave, Bldg. 1, 11th Floor, Boston, MA 02115, USA. Electronic address: yvette@mail.harvard.edu.
2
Department of Global Health and Population, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, 665 Huntington Ave, Bldg. 1, 11th Floor, Boston, MA 02115, USA; FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, 651 Huntington Ave, 7th Floor, Boston, MA 02115, USA.
3
Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School, 641 Huntington Ave., Boston, MA, USA 02115.
4
Department of Global Health and Population, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, 665 Huntington Ave, Bldg. 1, 11th Floor, Boston, MA 02115, USA.

Abstract

This paper quantitatively examines the intergenerational effects of girl child marriage, or the developmental and health outcomes of children born to women who marry before age 18. The overall objective is to understand the mechanisms through which girl child marriage affects the health and well-being of children in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as the relative magnitude and impact of these mechanisms. We used data from 37,558 mother-child pairs identified through 16 national and sub-national cross-sectional surveys across sub-Saharan Africa conducted between 2010 and 2014 by the UNICEF Multiple Indicator Clusters Survey program. The Early Childhood Development Index was used to measure child development, and stunting was used to measure health. Using logistic regression, we found that the odds of being off-track for development and being stunted were 25% and 29% higher, respectively, for children born to women who married before age 18 compared to those whose mothers married later (p < 0.001). Geographic location and primary education, which were conceptualized as contextual factors, explained most of this relationship, controlling for country fixed-effects. In adjusted models, we found that early childbearing was not the sole pathway through which girl child marriage affected child development and health. Our final models revealed that disparities in advanced maternal education and wealth explained child development and stunting. We conclude that there are intergenerational consequences of girl child marriage on her child's well-being, and that through association with other contextual, socioeconomic, and biological factors, marrying early does matter for child development and health. Our findings resonate with existing literature and point toward important policy considerations for improving early childhood outcomes.

KEYWORDS:

Africa; Child marriage; Early childhood development; Early childhood development index; Marriage; Multiple Indicator Clusters Survey; Stunting; Sub-Saharan Africa

PMID:
28570927
DOI:
10.1016/j.socscimed.2017.05.027
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center