Marriage and Parenthood

young couple Peru

Across all Young Lives countries, both young people and their parents now believe it is acceptable to marry later and delay childbirth for economic and health reasons. However, while the rise in schooling is enabling more young people to access information about reproductive health, many girls are still entering into early marriage and childbearing, despite the association with higher infant and maternal mortality, health risks due to physical immaturity, and higher overall fertility.

As our Older Cohort are in their early twenties, many are marrying and starting a family. By the age of 19, over a third of girls in our India sample are already married, and in both India and Ethiopia, many girls are still marrying well below the legal age of 18. Early childbearing is also still prevalent; nearly a quarter of girls in Peru have had a baby by the time they are 19.

In 2016 Young Lives is carrying out qualitative sub-studies in Ethiopia and India to look more closely at the drivers of early marriage. Field research in India will also look at the changes and challenges encountered by adolescents once they are married, particularly with regards to their sexual and reproductive health needs, choices and behaviours and their experiences of motherhood and fatherhood. By exploring young people’s pathways into marriage and parenthood we can contribute to the policy debates about how best to address not just early marriage and early child-bearing but the concerns of adolescent girls and boys in their transitions to adulthood.

Latest research: Marriage and parenthood

Who decides? cover
Who Decides? Fertility and Childbearing Experiences of Young Married Couples in Ethiopia
Working paper
Neglected experiences cover
Neglected experiences: Fertility and childbearing among young people in Ethiopia
Policy paper
"How could he help me?" cover
“How could he help me?”: The gendered experiences of young parents in Ethiopia
Policy paper
"Caring for a baby is a mother's responsibility" cover
“Caring for a baby is a mother’s responsibility” Parenting and Health Service Experiences of Young Mothers and Fathers in Young Lives Communities in Ethiopia
Working paper
Love alone is not enough cover
Love Alone is Not Enough: The Challenges of Separation and Divorce Among Young Couples in Ethiopia
Policy paper
When things fall apart cover
When Things Fall Apart: Separation and Divorce Among Adolescents and Young Couples in Ethiopia
Working paper
Experiences of cohabitation, marriage and parenting in Peruvian adolescents and youth
Research Report
Young marriage, parenthood and divorce in Zambia cover
Young Marriage, Parenthood and Divorce in Zambia
Policy paper

Research Countries