Marriage patterns and the demographic dividend

Type Book Section - Africa's Population: In search of a demographic dividend
Title Marriage patterns and the demographic dividend
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2017
Page numbers 251-265
Publisher Springer
This chapter aims to show that the ability to fully realize a demographic dividend is likely to be affected by policies and programs that remove barriers to girls' right to marriage choice, educational advancement, and sexual and reproductive choice. Specifically, it examines the extent to which marriage patterns may affect sub-Saharan Africa’s prospects of reaping a demographic dividend using data from the United Nations World Marriage database, the Demographic and Health Surveys, and the Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys. Analyses of trends in marriage indicators from the 1980s to present indicate a gender gap in age at first marriage and adolescent marriage rate, and the prevalence of polygynous union decreased substantially in many countries. The median female and male ages at first marriage increased substantially in Eastern and Southern Africa, and to a lesser extent in Central and Western Africa. Countries with high rates of child marriage (before age 18 years) exhibited higher total fertility rates. Where age at marriage, female education, and modern contraceptive use remain low, marriage patterns will hamper sustained economic growth . In such countries (e.g., Central African Republic, Chad, Guinea, and Niger), an increase in women’s marriage age may contribute to lower fertility if premarital childbearing remains low. In countries where the marriage age, premarital childbearing, and school enrollment rates for girls remain high, as in Namibia and Swaziland, delaying marriage may not affect the fertility decline and the demographic dividend. Rather, policies and programs should be put in place to expand women’s access to sexual and reproductive health information and services.

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