The hidden economic costs of child marriage

Women who marry early tend to have more children. Ending child marriage would reduce the fertility rate by 12 percent in Nigeria, 15 percent in Ethiopia and Niger and 18 percent in Bangladesh, having significant implications for population growth.

By: London | Thomas Reuters Foundation | Published:June 27, 2017 7:44 pm
Child Marriage, World Bank, Child education, Global population Ending child marriage would cut population growth and boost girls’ educational achievements and earning ability, boosting national prosperity, according to a report by the bank and the International Center for Research on Women. (Source: Pixabay, Representational)

Child marriage will cost developing countries trillions of dollars by 2030, seriously hampering global efforts to eradicate poverty, the World Bank said on Tuesday. Ending child marriage would cut population growth and boost girls’ educational achievements and earning ability, boosting national prosperity, according to a report by the bank and the International Center for Research on Women.

Here are some facts:

* Some 15 million girls a year are married before the age of 18 – one girl every two seconds.

* Niger has the highest rate of child marriage with nearly 77 percent of girls wed before 18, followed by Chad with over 68 percent, and Mali and Bangladesh with over 59 percent.

* Although rates of child marriage have fallen, the total number of child brides continues to increase due to population growth.

IMPACT ON POPULATION GROWTH

* Women who marry early tend to have more children. Ending child marriage would reduce the fertility rate by 12 percent in Nigeria, 15 percent in Ethiopia and Niger and 18 percent in Bangladesh, having significant implications for population growth.

* Niger’s population would fall by around 5 percent by 2030 if child marriage ended immediately, having a positive effect on national budgets and welfare.

* Lower population growth would increase GDP. If child marriage had ended in 2015, the estimated annual global benefit would be $566 billion by 2030.

* The benefit would be almost $1 billion in Nepal, $1.7 billion in Niger and $4.8 billion in Ethiopia.

CHILD MORTALITY AND DEVELOPMENT

* Children born to child brides are more at risk of death or poor development due to lack of good nutrition.

* Three in 100 deaths among under-fives are attributable to the young age of the mother. One in 100 stunted children are stunted because of early childbirths.

* The global annual benefit from ending under-five mortality and stunting would be $98 billion by 2030.

EDUCATION

* Child brides are much more likely to drop out of school, affecting their future ability to earn money.

* Child marriage reduces women’s earnings by 9 percent. In Nigeria this is equivalent to $7.6 billion annually in lost earnings and productivity.

* Ending child marriage could increase national earnings by an average of 1 percent.

* Reducing populations would also produce big savings in national education budgets. Eliminating child marriage would save countries 5 percent or more of their education budget by 2030. Sources: World Bank, Girls Not Brides.

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