Prevalence of Child Marriage and Its Impact in Indonesia

Rakhmadi, Mukhammad Fajar; Marshan, Joseph; Rizky, Mayang (2014). 'Prevalence of Child Marriage and Its Impact in Indonesia' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, 2-5 September 2014, Athens, Greece.

In 2010, Indonesia experienced a prevalence of 13.5% of child marriage SUSENAS (Indonesian National Socioeconomic Survey). This prevalence had declined from a level of 18.5% in a decade, indeed, but there is a notion that girls who marry before the age of 18 is one of the consequences left for households to face the financial woes brought by the impact of economic crisis. Girls are often being used as an assurance to move the family out from poverty. On the other hand, child marriage has already discussed from various perspectives but little empirical research in Indonesia have been published due to its severe causes and effects that link to them. The public debate on minimum legal age of marriage is an ever present issue among policy makers.


Through this paper, we aim to calculate the prevalence of child marriage using two waves of 2000 and 2007 Indonesian Family Life Survey (IFLS), as the only household longitudinal data source. Later on, we also use the differences-in-differences method to exhibit the changes in household condition before and after the natural experiment of child marriage took its place. We focused on how economic, health, and education status of woman who had child marriage been changing overtime. We compare the result between control and treatment group of observations. As addition to econometrics approach, we observed this changing process using cohort analysis.


We found that child marriage in Indonesia is determined more by social and economic characteristics both within and surrounding the girls. The changes in household welfare are also varied according to the initial condition, many would say that it has a somewhat upward gain in the short run but downward gain in the long run. Further, the child marriage itself significantly worsen off woman education and health status.


As our findings suggest, child marriage largely affect education, health, and welfare status, eventually for woman. Straightforwardly, child marriage is against human development spirit, which promote gender equality and empowerment. As human development issue become more central in modern development, child marriage issue seems to be under seen by policy makers especially in developing countries. In Indonesia for instance, law of marriage never been revised for over 40 years, even though the law is unsuited the development goals.


The findings has unintentionally recommended the policy makers to focus more on creating enabling environment that evolve alternatives to child marriage rather than in debating when should the marriage takes its place. By then, households will have a more rational decision on the marriage of their children and there will be more informed mothers in the country.


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