Publications Summary

Document Type
Analytical Studies
Publication Topic(s)
Family Planning, Fertility and Fertility Preferences, Youth
Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines
Recommended Citation
MacQuarrie, Kerry L.D. 2016. Marriage and Fertility Dynamics: The Influence of Marriage Age on the Timing of First Birth and Birth Spacing. DHS Analytical Studies No. 56. Rockville, Maryland, USA: ICF International.
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Publication Date
August 2016
Publication ID

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In a context of rising marriage age for women and a compression of first birth intervals, this study uses survival analysis, hazard models, and multivariate decomposition techniques to investigate the influence of marriage age on the first birth interval over time, and the implications of both marriage age and first birth interval on the second birth interval. Secondarily, the study assesses the influence of the gender context. The study analyzes these relationships in seven countries—four in South Asia and three in Southeast Asia—that have experienced significant change in either age at marriage or the first birth interval, or both. Demographic and Health Surveys data from over approximately a decade are used to examine changes in these dynamics over time. Significant increases in marriage age and significant decreases in the first birth interval (except in Cambodia) are observed, albeit at varying rates. Later marriage is associated with shorter first birth intervals but longer second birth intervals. Marriage age remains the most consistent influence on the first birth interval after controlling for birth cohort, gender context, and women’s and husbands’ characteristics. Compositional shifts toward later marriage contributes substantially (38%-89%) to declines in the first birth interval in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Indonesia, and the Philippines, while a change in the effect of marrying later contributes to change in the first birth interval in India and Nepal. Marriage age continues to influence the second birth interval, after controlling for the length of the first birth interval and other covariates.


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