The impact of early marriage on the life satisfaction, education and subjective health of young women in India: A longitudinal analysis

Shireen Kanji, Fiona Carmichael, Christian K. Darko, Richmond Egyei, Nicholas Vasilakos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite progress in reducing rates of early marriage, it is still a widespread practice in India accounting for 30% of the world’s early marriages. Understanding its impacts is thus of high importance to global gender equality goals. This article examines the impact of early marriage on multi-dimensional aspects of well-being: life satisfaction, subjectively assessed health and educational attainment. Difference-in-differences analysis with propensity score matching examines causal effects using Young Lives Survey data. The analysis shows women who married early experience a trajectory of lower life satisfaction which is in evidence before marriage, at age 12, persisting until the latest survey at age 22. There is no evidence of a causal negative effect of early marriage on life satisfaction; the relationship is more complicated, linked to trajectories of deprivation which commence from a very young age. In contrast, early marriage negatively affects women’s self-reported health and educational attainment by age 22.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Development Studies
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 6 Nov 2023

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