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Marriage and Power: Age at first marriage and spousal age gap in Lesser Developed Countries

This paper examines age at first marriage for women and spousal age gap as an indicator for female agency from 1950 until 2005. Using a dataset of 77 LDCs this paper seeks to explore which variables determine differences at a country level in marriage patterns. We look at the influence of urbanisation, education, percentage population of Muslim faith, and family type. We find that education is key in determining at what age women marry, having as would be expected a positive effect on age at first marriage and depressing spousal age gap. Urbanisation is significant, with a positive effect on age and negative on spousal age gap, although the effect is not very large. The percentage Muslim variable depresses female age at first marriage and increases spousal age gap but only when family type is not controlled for. The initially strong negative effect of percentage population Muslim over the period under consideration on age of first marriage has decreased, which raises some interesting questions about the role of Islam in female empowerment.

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File URL: http://www.cgeh.nl/sites/default/files/WorkingPapers/CGEH.WP_.No15.Carmichael.pdf
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Paper provided by Utrecht University, Centre for Global Economic History in its series Working Papers with number 0015.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ucg:wpaper:0015
Contact details of provider: Postal: University of Utrecht, Drift 10, The Netherlands
Web page: http://www.cgeh.nl
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  1. Tine De Moor & Jan Luiten Van Zanden, 2010. "Girl power: the European marriage pattern and labour markets in the North Sea region in the late medieval and early modern period -super-1," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 63(1), pages 1-33, 02.
  2. Gilles Duranton & Andrés Rodríguez-Pose & Richard Sandall, 2008. "Family types and the persistence of regional disparities in Europe," Working Papers 2008-07, Instituto Madrileño de Estudios Avanzados (IMDEA) Ciencias Sociales.
  3. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "A Theory of Marriage: Part II," NBER Chapters, in: Marriage, Family, Human Capital, and Fertility, pages 11-26 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Jennifer Olmsted, 2005. "Gender, Aging, And The Evolving Arab Patriarchal Contract," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 11(2), pages 53-78.
  5. Becker, Gary S, 1973. "A Theory of Marriage: Part I," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(4), pages 813-46, July-Aug..
  6. Malanima, Paolo, 2005. "Urbanisation and the Italian economy during the last millennium," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 9(01), pages 97-122, April.
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