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How Much Education Is Needed to Delay Women's Age at Marriage and First Pregnancy?

Marphatia, AA; Saville, NM; Atnable, GS; Manandhar, DS; Cortina-Borja, M; Wells, JC; Reid, AM; (2020) How Much Education Is Needed to Delay Women's Age at Marriage and First Pregnancy? Frontiers in Public Health , 7 , Article 396. 10.3389/fpubh.2019.00396. Green open access

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Abstract

Background: Early childbirth is associated with adverse maternal and child health outcomes. In South Asia, where women generally marry before having children, public health efforts need to focus on delaying marriage. Female education is widely considered the primary means to achieve this. However, it remains unclear how much education is required to delay marriage to the universal minimum age of 18 years, or what predicts marriage age in women lacking any education. This is crucial to address in the Terai region of Nepal which has the highest proportion of children out of school and where girls marry and have their first pregnancy early. / Methods: We analyzed data from 6,406 women aged 23–30 years from a cluster-randomized trial in lowland Terai Nepal. Using Kaplan-Meier survival analysis, multivariable logistic and Cox proportional hazards regression models, we investigated associations between women's education level and age at marriage and first pregnancy, and the interval between these events. Among the uneducated women, we investigated associations of husband's education level with the same outcomes. / Results: Compared to uneducated women, educated women had a greater probability of delaying marriage until the age of 18 years and of pregnancy until 20 years. Women needed to complete grade 9, and ideally 11, to substantially increase their odds of marrying after 18 years. Delaying first pregnancy to 20 years was largely due to marrying later; education had little extra effect. The association of marriage with first pregnancy age worked independently of education. However, later-marrying women, who generally had completed more education, had their first pregnancy sooner after marriage than earlier marrying women. Most uneducated women, regardless of their husbands' level of education, still married under the legal age of marriage. / Conclusion: Delaying marriage to majority age requires greater efforts to ensure girls get to school in the first place, and complete secondary education. Since currently only 36% of girls in the Terai attend secondary school, parallel efforts to delay marriage are crucial to prevent early childbearing. Sexual and reproductive health programmes in school and in women's groups for married and uneducated adolescents may help prepare for marriage and pregnancy.

Type: Article
Title: How Much Education Is Needed to Delay Women's Age at Marriage and First Pregnancy?
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3389/fpubh.2019.00396
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.3389/fpubh.2019.00396
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2020 Marphatia, Saville, Amable, Manandhar, Cortina-Borja, Wells and Reid. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
Keywords: education, women's marriage age, age at first pregnancy, marriage to first childbearing interval, lowland Nepal
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute for Global Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > UCL GOS Institute of Child Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > UCL GOS Institute of Child Health > Population, Policy and Practice Dept
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10090689
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