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Prevalence of girl and boy child marriage across states and Union Territories in India, 1993–2021: a repeated cross-sectional study
Authors: Jewel Gausman, Rockli Kim, Akhil Kumar, Shamika Ravi, S V Subramanian
Source: Lancet Global Health , Volume 12, issue 2; DOI:
Topic(s): Child health
Child marriage
Country: Asia
Published: DEC 2023
Abstract: Background: India's success in eliminating child marriage is crucial to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal target 5.3. We aimed to estimate the prevalence of child marriage in girls and boys in India and describe its change across 36 states and Union Territories between 1993 and 2021. Methods: For this cross-sectional study, data from five National Family Health Surveys from 1993, 1999, 2006, 2016, and 2021 were used. The study included 310?721 women aged 20–24 years between 1993 and 2021 and 43?436 men aged 20–24 years between 2006 and 2021. Child marriage was defined as marriage in individuals younger than 18 years for men and women. We calculated the annual change in prevalence during the study period for states and Union Territories and estimated the population headcount of child brides and grooms. Findings: Child marriage declined during 1993 to 2021. The all-India prevalence of child marriage in girls declined from 49·4% (95% CI 48·1–50·8) in 1993 to 22·3% (21·9–22·7) in 2021. Child marriage in boys declined from 7·1% (6·9–30·8) in 2006 to 2·2% (1·8–2·7) in 2021. The largest decreases in child marriage occurred between 2006 and 2016. Between 2016 and 2021, a few states and Union Territories saw an increase in prevalence of child marriage in girls (n=6) and boys (n=8) despite declines in the all-India prevalence. In 2021, 13?464?450 women aged 20–24 years and 1?454?894 men aged 20–24 years were estimated to be married as children. Interpretation: One in five girls and nearly one in six boys are still married below the legal age of marriage in India. There remains an urgent need for strengthened national and state-level policy to eliminate child marriage by 2030.