The World Bank today, June 27 indicated that by 2030, child marriage will cost developing countries trillions of dollars.

In a new report Economic Impacts of Child Marriagepublished today, June 27, the World Bank and the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) state that “In contrast, ending child marriage would have a large positive effect on the educational attainment of girls and their children, contribute to women having fewer children and later in life, and increase women’s expected earnings and household welfare.”

Child brides are often robbed of their rights to safety and security, to health and education, and to make their own life choices and decisions,” said Quentin Wodon, the World Bank’s Project Director and co-author of the report. “Child marriage not only puts a stop to girls’ hopes and dreams. It also hampers efforts to end poverty and achieve economic growth and equity. Ending this practice is not only the morally right thing to do but also the economically smart thing to do.”

Across the countries considered in the report, three in four early childbirths (children born to a mother younger than 18) are attributed to child marriage. The report estimates that a girl marrying at 13 will have on average 26 percent more children over her lifetime than if she had married at 18 or later. This means that ending child marriage would reduce total fertility rates by 11 percent on average in those countries, leading to substantial reductions in population growth over time. In Niger, the country with the highest prevalence of child marriage in the world, the population by 2030 could be five percent smaller if child marriage and early childbirths were eliminated.

According to the report, in the past 30 years, the prevalence of child marriage (marriage or union before the age of 18) has decreased in many countries, but it still remains far too high. In a set of 25 countries for which detailed analysis was conducted, at least one in three women marry before the age of 18, and one in five women have their first child before the age of 18.

At What Cost? The Economic Impacts of Child Marriage

Every day more than 41,000 girls marry before the age of 18. Child marriage negatively affects the health and rights of adolescent girls and severely impedes global development and poverty eradication efforts.

Each year, 15 million girls are married before the age of 18. Child marriage is a global challenge that has been shown to contribute to a number of harmful consequences, including school dropout, early pregnancy, intimate partner violence and infant mortality. But what are the economic impacts of child marriage?

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.


The World Bank and the ICRW say “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 collaborated on this project which 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.

The groundbreaking research project to uncover the economic costs of child marriage by the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) and the World Bank presented today looks into the economic consequences of child marriage.  The evidence will be used 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.

Lead Photo Source Mapping for Niger:  (Wedding Night Ceremony)