Policy Issue: Girls who marry early are more likely to have lower educational attainment, be socially isolated, have early and high-risk pregnancies, be at risk of sexually transmitted infections, and experience intimate partner violence. Childbearing during adolescence is associated with high-risk complications and increased risk of mortality. Multiple factors can contribute to girls’ early marriage and childbearing, including limited knowledge of sexual and reproductive health, limited bargaining power within the household or community, and/or limited educational or labour-market prospects. However, other than legal bans, there remain limited policy approaches.
Evidence synthesis: In recent years, economists have conducted several randomised impact evaluations of innovative programmes designed to produce new insights on how to reduce early marriage and childbearing in developing countries. This research has contributed to a growing body of rigorous evidence of what works and what does not work to achieve these policy goals in different contexts. This presentation will feature key findings from a synthesis of 10 randomised evaluations of programmes that sought to intervene with both girls and their parents through information provision, empowerment and/or financial and in-kind incentives. We will share actionable policy lessons for decision makers searching for cost-effective ways to improve the health and well-being of girls and young women in low-resource settings.