Through this project, the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) and the World Bank are researching the economic consequences of child marriage, and utilizing the resulting evidence to strengthen the case for ending this harmful practice. The project is supported by the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Additional support for some components of the work has been provided by the Global Partnership for Education.
Each year, 15 million girls are married before the age of 18 - that’s one in three girls in the developing world (excluding China). These girls are robbed of their rights to safety and security, to health, to education, and to make their own choices and decisions for their lives.
When girls are forced to marry, they often drop out of school, may face serious health complications and even death from early pregnancy and childbearing, and are at greater risk of HIV infection and intimate partner violence.
They are often isolated, with limited opportunity to engage socially and to participate in the economic development of their communities. Child marriage thus hampers efforts to eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable global development.
There is growing evidence documenting the tragic consequences of child marriage, and, as importantly, ways to end the practice. But a critical barrier to advancing evidence-based interventions has been a lack of rigorous data on the economic impacts of child marriage, including opportunity and financial costs, costs for health care systems, lost earnings, lower growth potential, and the perpetuation of poverty.
To address this challenge, the International Center for Research on Women and the World Bank are collaborating in a groundbreaking research project. The first of its kind, this project involves the most extensive data collection and analysis ever undertaken to understand the economic costs of child marriage and to make the economic case for investing to eradicate this harmful practice. By establishing the effects that child marriage has on economic outcomes, the project aims to catalyze more effective and evidence-based action to prevent it.