Incidence of Child Marriage: New Findings from the 2011 Census of India

Renu Singh
Marriage and parenthood
Policy paper

In India, child marriage is defined as marriage before the age of 18 for girls, and before 21 for boys. Although the incidence of child marriage in India is slowly declining, the absolute number of girls and boys getting married before their respective legal ages is still significant, with 12.1 million child marriages reported by the 2011 Census of India.

Young Lives and the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) recently compiled a report entitled ‘A Statistical Analysis of Child Marriage in India’, based on the 2011 Census data. The report measures the incidence of child marriage at state and district level for both girls and boys, provides a list of high incidence districts disaggregated by urban and rural areas, and different age groups, and identifies key trends in child marriage incidence between 2001 and 2011.

This policy brief provides an overview of the methodology and data to enable micro-level planning and targeted interventions by policymakers in different levels of governance, and makes recommendations for policymakers at national and sub-national level.