Factors affecting female age at marriage in South Asia
Bruce K. Caldwell, Australian National University
In contrast to East and Southeast Asia, changes in marriage patterns have played a small role in reducing fertility in South Asia. While age at marriage for women has risen, it remains with the exception of Sri Lanka, early and change has been slow. Except for Sri Lanka the region has shown few signs of a sizable population who will never marry coming into existence. South Asia’s marriage patterns reflect its cultural context and lesser socio-economic change but the precise impact of these factors is not simple or always predictable. The paper examines these issues in Bangladesh, where age at marriage is very early, and Sri Lanka, where it is much later. The study areas, Dhaka city and south-western Sri Lanka are both ones of great economic and social change. Detailed local surveys, including in-depth interviews, are used to identify the factors that have influenced the timing of marriage.