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Power vs money: alternative approaches to reducing child marriage in Bangladesh, a randomized control trial

Author: Nina Buchmann, Erica Field, Rachel Glennerster, Shahana Nazneen, Svetlana Pimkina, Iman Sen Organisation: Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) Year: 2017

The 9-year study presented in this paper used a randomized control trial to compare the impact of two programmes on child marriage, adolescent pregnancy, and girls’ education in rural Bangladesh.

One of the programmes was a conditional incentive initiative, which consisted in distributing cooking oil to girls if they remained unmarried until the age of 18. The other was an empowerment programme, which provided girls with education support and life-skills in Safe Spaces.

Four years and a half after the end of the programmes, the researchers found that the conditional incentive initiative was effective in delaying marriage for girls. Girls who were unmarried and still in school at the beginning of the programme, and who took part in the conditional incentive programme for at least two years, were:

  • 23% less likely to be married under 18
  • 16% less likely to give birth before they turned 20
  • 24 % more likely to be in school at age 22

The empowerment programme was successful in increasing girls’ education (10% more likely to be in school) but didn’t have a direct significant impact on child marriage.

TAGS: Research article Bangladesh South Asia Poverty Education Empowering girls Providing services Education Economic services