Determinants and consequences of early marriage for women in Indonesia

Author: Teguh Wahyudi

Wahyudi, Teguh, 2020 Determinants and consequences of early marriage for women in Indonesia, Flinders University, College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

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Early marriage affects millions of women globally and causes multiple social, economic and health impacts for women. The prevalence of early marriage is persistently high, especially in developing countries and Indonesia is no exception to this. At 2012, Indonesia was one of the top 10 countries in terms of the highest absolute number of early marriages with more than 1.3 million girls reported to have been married before reaching their 18th birthday. Attempts to reduce the prevalence of early marriage are progressing rather slowly. Various social, economic and demographic factors are considered to be the causes of early marriage. Weak law enforcement, traditional/religious values and poverty contribute to the perpetuation of early marriage. However, the detrimental impacts of early marriage on Indonesian women are only vaguely known as empirical studies of early marriage in Indonesia are very limited in number and scope. The purpose of the present study is to identify the determinants and consequences of early marriage through a quantitative analysis of data collected by interviewing ever married women at the latest Indonesia Demographic and Health Survey in 2017 (IDHS 2017). The determinants of early marriage are analysed through multivariate logistic regression while the consequences of early marriage are analysed through bivariate logistic regression. Results of the analyses show that women’s educational attainment and place of residence (rural-urban) are significant determinants of early marriage in Indonesia, where women with below secondary education and rural residence are much more likely to be married before the age of 18 years. Non-exposure to media (newspaper, radio and internet) has a weak association with early marriage. Household wealth index, a proxy for poverty has not been found to influence early marriage in Indonesia, suggesting the prevalence of traditional/religious values across all socio-economic groups supporting early marriage. In terms of the consequences, the analysis revealed that early marriage reduces the chances for women to achieve secondary or higher education, have paid employment, participate in household decision making and to utilise prenatal health care particularly by professional health personnel. Early marriage also increases the likelihood of women to initiate sexual relation and childbirth at earlier ages, have more than two children and experience mortalities of children under the age of five years. All these consequences potentially put women in a more disempowered position in the household. The results of this study call for preventive measures to stop the perpetuation of early marriage in Indonesia, by making it easier for them to complete at least secondary education and by improving economic (employment) opportunities for rural women, by implementing mandatory as well as subsidised education up to secondary level and by putting a greater focus on rural development. The evident detrimental consequences of early marriage also suggest the need for effective and massive dissemination of information about the adverse effects of early marriage through various media channels in order to counter the prevailing traditional/religious values supporting early marriage.

Keywords: early marriage, women, Indonesia, demographic and health survey

Subject: International Studies thesis

Thesis type: Masters
Completed: 2020
School: College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
Supervisor: Associate Professor Gour Dasvarma