Child marriage and infant mortality: Causal evidence from the Ethiopian child marriage ban

Speaker: Jorge Garcia, research fellow, Department of Social Policy, London School of Economics
Discussant: Marcella Vigneri, CEDIL
Chair: Hugh Waddington, Senior evaluation specialist, 3ie
Venue: Lower meeting room, LIDC
Time: 12:30 to 14:00 
Date: 24 January 2018



This study uses a fuzzy regression discontinuity design exploiting age discontinuities in the degree of exposure to a law that raised the legal age of marriage for women from 15 to 18 years in some regions of Ethiopia to provide the first evidence on (a) the beneficial effects on child marriage and infant mortality of laws that ban underage marriage and on (b) the causal effect of delaying women's age at cohabitation on infant mortality. The results show that although the introduction of the law did not end child marriage among Ethiopian women, it had large effects on the incidence of child marriage and on the probability of infant mortality of the first born child.

Besides, the results suggest that a one-year delay in women's age at cohabitation during teenage years decreases the incidence of infant mortality of the fi rst born by 3.8 percentage points. The size of this effect is comparable to the joint impact on child mortality of measles,
BCG, DPT, Polio and Maternal Tetanus vaccinations. This effect on infant mortality seems to be closely linked to the impact of delaying cohabitation on the age of women at first birth.

About speaker

Jorge works as a research fellow at the Department of Social Policy, London School of Economics. He has completed a PhD in Economics at the University of Sussex and before starting his doctoral studies, he worked for J-PAL and 3ie. His research is empirical and relies on policy reforms, interventions and natural experiments to investigate the causes and consequences of cultural practices such as child marriage, polygamy or female genital mutilation in developing countries.

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