Supporting Married, Cohabiting and Divorced Adolescents: Insights from Comparative Research

Gender, adolescence & youth
Gender
Adolescence and youth
Trajectories
Transitions
Early marriage and FGM
Marriage and parenthood
Policy paper

This is the 2nd policy brief from the Young Marriage and Parenthood Study (YMAPS), a qualitative research study carried out between 2017 and 2020 by Young Lives and Child Frontiers in Ethiopia, India (Andhra Pradesh and Telangana states), Peru, and Zambia. It highlights findings from the study and proposes policy recommendations to ensure that young people experiencing marriage, co-habitation and parenthood feel safe and cared for in their relationships; live a dignified life despite poverty; are able to return to, or finish their education and access training; and most importantly, to ensure that their own children go to school in order to give them a better future.  Understanding, supporting and listening to this generation of adolescents who have married or cohabited and become parents in a critical step in breaking the cycle of young marraige for the next generation and achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. 

 

Young Marriage, Parenthood and Divorce

Gender, adolescence & youth
Gender
Adolescence and youth
Trajectories
Transitions
Early marriage and FGM
Marriage and parenthood
Research Report

This report presents emerging evidence from the Young Marriage and Parenthood Study (YMAPS), a comparative qualitative study of marriage, cohabitation, parenthood and divorce among marginalised adolescents and young people in Ethiopia, India (in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana), Peru and Zambia between 2017 and 2020.  

There is a growing body of knowledge about why adolescents girls in the Global South get married. However, there is much less information about how to support them once they are married or in a union, and how being married or cohabiting or being young parents alters their life trajectories.  

Report authors Gina Crivello and Gillian Mann, who lead YMAPS reveal the lives of adolescent girls and boys and young people who are or were married or cohabiting or are parents through the lens of 6 themes;

  • What drives young marriage and cohabitation?
  • Continuity and Change in marriage and informal unions;
  • What do young people know about contraception and pregnancy, and what it is like to be a young parent?
  • What drives the experience of unequal power dynamics between young couples?
  • What causes violence and conflict in young married and cohabiting relationships? 
  • What leads to relationship breakdown, separation and divorce, and what are the consequences for young people?  

The findings of the study suggest that a committment to the 'leave no one behind' agenda requires expanding the efforts to address child marriage to more explicity include the experiences of young people who are married or in informal unions, as well as those who are divorced and separated.  A focus on adolescent sexuality, the experiences of boys and young men, and a more accurate understanding of girl's and boy's agency and decision making in their marriage and reproductive pathways are also needed.  

We are publishing a policy brief to accompany this report which you can read here.  For more on YMAPS please read here

 

 

 

Maternal Age and Offspring Human Capital in India

Human capital
Nutrition
Gender
Marriage and parenthood
Journal Article

A discussion paper titled 'Maternal Age and Offspring Human Capital in India' by Marcello Perez-Alvarez and Marta Favara, has been published by the Courant Research Centre, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen https://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/200168/1/1668994607.pdf 

Abstract 

Early motherhood remains a widespread phenomenon in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). While the consequences of early motherhood for the mother have been extensively investigated, the impact on their children is severely understudied, especially in LMICs, which host 95% of teen births globally (WHO, 2014). Using panel and sibling data from India, this paper investigates the effect of early maternal age on offspring human capital development in terms of health and cognition, and relies on mother fixed effects to allow for household and mother unobserved heterogeneity. Furthermore, this paper explores the evolution of these effects over time during childhood and early adolescence for the first time. Results indicate that early maternal age has an overall detrimental effect on offspring health and cognition. We show that children born to early mothers are shorter for their age and perform poorer in the math test. Interestingly, the effect on child’s heath is observed at early ages and weakens over time, while the cognition effect surges only in early adolescence. The analysis on heterogeneous effects suggests that children and in particular girls born to very young mothers are worst off. The transmission channel analysis tentatively hints at some behavioral channels driving the relationships of interest and documents a positive (and modest) association between height-for-age and subsequent math performance. Overall, our results support both restorative policies assisting children born to early mothers and preventive policies tackling early pregnancy. 

 

Marital and Fertility Decision-Making Report: The Lived Experiences of Adolescents and Young Married Couples in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, India

Gina Crivello
Adolescence and gender
Adolescence and youth
Early marriage and FGM
Gender
Gender, adolescence & youth
Marriage and parenthood
Reproductive health

This report presents findings from a qualitative study exploring married adolescent girls and young couples’ experiences of fertility decision-making in the context of early marital life, in two southern Indian states (Andhra Pradesh and Telanaga). The research was carried out as part of Young Lives, a longitudinal study of childhood poverty that traced the life trajectories of 3,000 children and their households located in these states, over a 15-year period. By age 18, around 30 per cent of girls in the Young Lives study had married, and 23 per cent of these married girls had also become mothers. 

‘Whatever she may study, she can’t escape from washing dishes’: gender inequity in secondary education – evidence from a longitudinal study in India

Education
Education transitions
Gender
Children's work and time-use
Journal Article

Using unique panel data from Young Lives study conducted in undivided Andhra Pradesh, India, this mixed-method paper analyses gender differentials in completion of secondary education.

Results show biased secondary school completion rates in favor of boys. Probit regression results highlight certain variables such as mothers’ education, wealth, high self-efficacy, early reading skills, lower birth order, and not engaging in more than two hours of domestic work and paid work at age 12, as positively associated with educational outcomes for girls. Decomposition analysis highlights that engaging in domestic chores at age 12 is the most contributory factor (36%) for the persisting gender gap.

The other unexplained contributory factors may well be existing discriminatory social norms and son preference, which is captured by the qualitative case studies.

The findings suggest that unless we are able to address persisting gender norms, universalizing secondary education with gender equity, will remain a distant dream.

Keywords

gender secondary schooling, mixed methods, discrimination, India.

 

Download  ‘Whatever she may study, she can’t escape from washing dishes’: gender inequity in secondary education – evidence from a longitudinal study in India, Renu Singh, Protap Mukherjee. 

 

Tracing the links between girls’ unpaid care work and women’s economic empowerment

That women’s economic empowerment and gender equality go hand in hand is being highlighted as part of this year’s International Women’s Day. The theme ‘Women in the Changing World of Work’ draws attention to the disproportionate amount of time spent on unpaid care work as a chief deterrent to women’s economic empowerment.

UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka points out that:

Across the world, too many women and girls spend too many hours on household responsibilities – typically more than double the time spent by men and boys. They look after younger siblings, older family members, deal with illness in the family and manage the house.

One of the proposed solutions is to ‘Share unpaid care!’ with men, and to invest in technology, infrastructure and services to reduce the care burden on women.

Similarly, in ‘Sharing the Load’ briefing, the Gender and Development Network argue that unpaid care work is connected to virtually every aspect of women’s economic empowerment – impacting women’s time for paid work, education and leisure, and their economic decision-making power.

Girls are increasingly being brought into this important debate, as in Unicef’s report on Harnessing the Power of Data for Girls highlighting gender inequalities in children’s household chores - worldwide, girls aged 5-9 and 10-14 spend, respectively, 30 per cent and 50 per cent more of their time helping around the house than boys of the same age.

Secondary education is fundamental to achieving gender equity

India has made tremendous progress in reaching the goal of universalisation of primary education since the passing of the Right to Education Act in 2010.  Education was made a fundamental right for all children aged 6 to 14.  However there are still huge gaps when we look at secondary education.

While the Gross Enrolment Ratio in secondary education rose by 25 % to over 76 %  between 2000 and 2014, the Net Enrolment Ratio remained a low 45.6 %. This means that more than half of all adolescents aged 15-16 are not enrolled in secondary education.

This has immense bearing on long term outcomes for children, since secondary education is considered a necessary stepping stone towards a better and brighter future. For girls in particular, not continuing in education often results in them being pushed into child and early marriage, since girls continue to be considered ‘paraya dhan’ (belonging to somebody else) and son-preference prevails across socio-economic strata across the country. There has been a lot of concern over the fact that despite the Indian economy growing at a healthy average of about 7% between 2004 to 2011, there is a decline in female participation in the country’s labour force from over 35% to 25%, according to the ILO.

It is no surprise given these facts, that India ranks 130th out of 155 countries in the 2015 Global Gender Inequality Index.

Young Lives longitudinal data from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana found that boys were 1.8 times more likely to complete secondary education than girls, even after controlling for variables related to individual characteristics. Girls left education due to various reasons including familial, societal and school related issues and by 19 approximately 37% of the girls were already married.

This compares to less than 2% of the boys.

Furthermore, the girls at the highest risk of getting married early were from the poorest tercile and those living in rural locations. My colleagues Patricia Espinoza and Abhijeet Singh conducted a regression analysis and found that school enrolment at the age of 15 had the most statistically significant impact on reducing the probability of child marriage of girls by over 32%.  Lower parental and child aspirations for education at the age of 12 and 15, were also linked to early marriage.

Do boys eat better than girls in India? Longitudinal evidence on dietary diversity and food consumption disparities among children and adolescents

Nutrition
Gender
Journal Article

This paper examines the dynamics of gender-based disparities in the intra-household allocation of food during childhood and adolescence in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana by using three rounds of longitudinal data from two cohorts. While boys are advantaged at all ages (except for the Younger Cohort at 12 years old), the pro-boy gap widens markedly at 15 years old. Specifically, mid-adolescent girls tend to consume fewer protein- and vitamin-rich foods such as eggs, legumes, root vegetables and fruit. This result is robust to gender differences between adolescents in terms of puberty onset, school enrolment, time use and dietary behaviours. Finally, gender disparities in dietary diversity during early and mid-adolescence do not vary by maternal education, poverty or place of residence, whilst they are moderated by levels of caregiver’s educational aspirations at 15 years old.

Highlights

  • The author investigates gender disparities in dietary diversity and food consumption among children and adolescents in India.
  • Boys are advantaged at all ages (except 12 years) but the pro-boy advantage widens especially at 15 years old.
  • Adolescent boys are more likely to consume nutritious foods than girls.
  • The gap is robust to gender differentials in puberty, school enrolment, time use and dietary behaviours.
  • Adolescent boys with caregivers that have high education aspirations are particularly advantaged in the intrahousehold distribution of food

 Keywords

gender; dietary diversity; India; intra-household dynamics; adolescents

Download Do boys eat better than girls in India? Longitudinal evidence on dietary diversity and food consumption disparities among children and adolescents.

“A Healthy Mind in a Healthy Body”: Economic Causes & Consequences of Gender Bias in Allocation of Healthcare during the Early Stages of Life

Nutrition, health and well-being
Education
Gender
Student paper

The so-called “fetal origins hypothesis” has increased the interest of health economists in the importance of the environment during the first 1,000 days of life following conception. Economists have found growing evidence that the lifelong trajectory of human capital formation is strongly governed by the level of healthcare that children receive during this time period. This paper follows recent literature in asking how gender-biased investments in earlylife healthcare can affect long-term educational outcomes for boys and girls.

Focusing on India, where the Young Lives longitudinal study allows for following a cohort of children over a 12-year period, these data are used to first establish the relationship between early-life health and cognitive development, and then search for potential gender biases in early-life healthcare. Under a certain set of assumptions, and following previous literature on household behaviour in India, the author is able to construct a sample whereby they can identify if the sex of the fetus has likely been determined, thus allowing for potential gender preferences to influence resource allocation decisions. This paper, inclusive of OLS, 2SLS and logit regression analysis, forms a solid case for a differential in educational attainment between the genders driven by early-life healthcare.

 

Child Marriage and Early Child-bearing in India: Risk Factors and Policy Implications

Gender, adolescence & youth
Gender
Marriage and parenthood
Policy paper

Prevalence rates of child marriage and early child-bearing have been declining across India over the past two decades, but absolute numbers remain high. The paper uses data collected from 3,000 children over 15 years in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, to provide an evidence base from which to strengthen policy and programming in this area.

An ecological life-course framework is used to explore the causes of child marriage and early child-bearing and the factors which help to prevent them. Young Lives findings show that

  • girls who stay in school for longer marry later, but gender gaps in enrolment widen through adolescence;
  • where resources are limited, gendered social risks become more acute and parents are forced to make decisions which disadvantage girls;
  • aspirations matter but reflect wider realities;
  • social norms that encourage early child-bearing are compounded by inequitable access to health and education services.

Whilst child marriage and early child-bearing are driven by entrenched patriarchal norms regarding the role and value of girls (and women) in society, structural factors are critical. Poverty and social disadvantage constrain girls’ opportunities and exacerbate the risks they face, forcing individuals and families to maintain ‘normal’ practices, thus reinforcing norms. An ecological life-course framework helps to demonstrate the need for a layered strategy to tackle the gendered disadvantages which drive child marriage and early child-bearing.