Mother’s age at marriage and gender-differential in child schooling: Evidence from Pakistan

Sumeet Ashok, Mazhar Mughal, Rashid Javed

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In this study, we provide empirical evidence in support of intergenerational effects of women’s marriage age on girl-specific child education outcomes using a nationally representative household survey of 24,809 households from Pakistan. Our key findings are four-fold: First, we find that mother’s age at marriage has no girl-specific impact on the education of children of school going age in terms of school enrolment, type of school (public/private) or education expenditure. However, there is a positive effect of delaying mother’s marriage on girls in terms of relative grade progression and primary school attainment, implying that late-marrying mothers are more likely to transfer their human capital advantages/disadvantages to the daughters. Second, the impact does not depend on whether the child is firstborn or later-order, youngest child or with no siblings. Sex of the previous child does not affect the relationship either. Third, the beneficial impact of mother’s marriage age on girls’ education is visible only in the cohort of women who got married in 2000 or later. Fourth, father’s marriage age is significantly associated with an increase in daughters’ school enrolment and primary completion. The impact of smaller spousal age difference is also positive. These findings are robust to the use of empirical strategies and specifications that address potential endogeneity, collider bias, recall bias, sample selection and confounding factors. These findings suggest that delay in women’s marriage is helping to narrow down gender disparities in education. The findings underscore the need to promote social and behavioural changes that encourage later marriages.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101405
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalEconomics and Human Biology
Early online date3 Jun 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Jun 2024

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