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Patterns in age at first marriage and its determinants in India: A historical perspective of last 30 years (1992–2021)
Authors: Mayank Singh, Chander Shekhar, and Neha Shri
Source: SSM: Population Health, Volume 22; DOI:
Topic(s): Marriage
Spatial analysis
Country: Asia
Published: JUN 2023
Abstract: Reproductive health and well-being of a woman are associated with factors such as menarche, first marriage, first sex, first birth, and menopause. The beginning of these events also brings about significant changes in women's lives. Despite marrying early being acknowledged as a detrimental and discriminatory socio-cultural global practice, a huge proportion of girls are being married at an early age, often detrimental to maternal and child health. Adding to the current national debate for the revision of the minimum age at marriage for girls from 18 to 21 years it becomes important to understand the past scenario and current situation of age at marriage in India. In this study, first five rounds of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) have been used as a data source. Cox Proportional Hazard Model, Multiple Classification Analysis (MCA), Kaplan Meier Curve, Life table survival analysis, hierarchical clustered heat map, Multivariate Decomposition Analysis (MDA), and geospatial mapping were used to fulfill the objective of the study. The results showed that almost 65.9% of women got married before reaching the age of 18 years in the year 1992–93 which reduced to 23.2% among women aged 20–24 years in 2019–21. Region, respondent’s level of education, caste, religion, wealth, and mass media exposure were significantly associated with the age at first marriage. The hazard of age at marriage declined significantly with higher educational attainment [higher education- AHR:0.37; CI:0.36 to 0.37], improving household wealth [richest wealth- AHR:0.91; CI:0.90 to 0.91], and mass media exposure [AHR:0.96; CI:0.95 to 0.96]. Since, the age at marriage has a substantial impact on fertility pattern and has a strong association with maternal & child health, policies regarding improving the age at marriage and better enforcement of the concerned laws are required to meet the SDG targets.