Report Indicates That Teenage Marriage and Pregnancy Are Still Common in India
Wednesday, August 5, 2009 12:38 PM

The marriage and pregnancy rate of teenage girls in India has decreased only slightly over the past 16 years according to a new report by the Guttmacher Institute and the International Institute for Population Sciences in Mumbai.  The report indicates that between 1993 and 2006, the proportion of teenage girls who married decreased from 50% to 45%.  Over the same period, the proportion of Indian women who gave birth below the age of 18 decreased from 28% to 22%.  These findings indicate that recent national increases in the legal age of marriage (21 for men and 18 for women) have not substantially diminished the occurrences of teenage marriage and pregnancy for Indian girls.

The prevalence of teenage Indian girls marrying and having children before the age of 18 poses numerous issues.  Studies indicate that teenage pregnancies in India are substantially more likely to result in maternal or prenatal injury or death, as compared to pregnancies that occur during a woman’s early twenties.  Additionally, girls that give birth during their teenage years have a longer reproductive lifespan, resulting in larger families and increased national population.

Ann Moore, the lead author of the Guttmacher Institute report, suggests that the Indian government should promote programs that keep girls in school.  Studies indicate that Indian girls with higher levels of education are more likely to get married after 18 and have increased reproductive control.

Compiled from:  "Despite Legal Restrictions, Early Marriage Remains Common in India; Childbearing Begins Soon Thereafter," Guttmacher Institute (June 4, 2009).