Political role models and child marriage in India
Drawing data from the most recent wave of the India Human Development Survey and the year of the first election with reserved seats for women, I estimate the effect of the Panchayati Raj institutions on child marriage.
In India, marriage traditions dictate that two ceremonies take place: the wedding and the gauna ceremony. These differ in timing and purpose. After the wedding, the bride and groom do not necessarily live together. The gauna ceremony indicates the start of marital life and the consummation of the marriage.
Results indicate that women in local government decrease the likelihood of child marriage, and delay the age at first marriage and the gauna ceremony. Delaying marriage has important policy implications for both the bride and her future children as it improves education, autonomy over fertility, and health. The results indicate that after 18 years of implementation, exposure to women in government can reduce the prevalence of child marriage.