Basic Profile of Child Marriage in Niger
Chata Malé, Quentin Wodon
In order to design programs and policies to reduce child marriage, information is needed on the trend in the practice over time, where it is most prevalent in a country, and what the characteristics of girls marrying early are. Measuring child marriage is needed to inform policy. Child marriage is recognized as a major development issue that affects girls in many developing countries. The practice has been linked to a number of health risks, higher fertility, and lower education attainment,
... g others. The negative impact of child marriage on a wide range of development outcomes explains why in many countries child marriage is now prohibited by law, and why the elimination of child marriage is part of the new Sustainable Development Goals. Yet more is needed to eliminate the practice than adopting laws. In order to inform program and policies to reduce the practice, this brief provides a basic profile of child marriage in Niger. The brief is part of a series of standardized briefs on this topic for several countries. Box 1: Brief and Series Primer How is child marriage defined? Child marriage is defined as a marriage or union taking place before the age of 18. Why a series on child marriage? Child marriage has significant negative impactsnot only for girls, but also for a range of development outcomes. Demonstrating these impacts will assist governments and others to make the case for intervening to reduce the practice. What are the topics discussed in the series? The series looks at the impacts of child marriage on health, population, education, employment, agency, and violence, among other outcomes. The welfare, budget, and non-monetary costs of child marriage are estimated. Legal/institutional aspects and options to reduce the practice are also discussed. What is the question asked in this brief? The question is: How widespread is the practice, not only in terms of the share of girls marrying early, but also in terms of how early they marry? How is the question answered? Measures and a profile of child marriage inspired by the literature on poverty are provided. KEY MESSAGES: Measures of child marriage are very high in Niger. The share of women ages 18-22 who married as children is 76.8 percent and it has declined only marginally over time. The share of girls marrying very early, before the age of 15, has declined more, but not rapidly either.