Early Marriage and Pregnancy as Factors in School Dropout: An Analysis of DHS data from Sub-Saharan Africa

Cynthia B. Lloyd, Population Council
Barbara S Mensch, Population Council

With the rapid expansion of girls’ schooling in sub-Saharan Africa and the greater likelihood of attending school after puberty, the effect of reproductive behavior on school participation among adolescent girls is a cause for concern. Using DHS data from 21 countries, this paper will investigate the association between school dropout and the timing of marriage and childbearing among young women aged 15-24. We will attempt to estimate how much of school dropout before completion of the full cycle of primary or secondary school can legitimately be attributed to early marriage and so-called “school girl pregnancy.” We will also investigate whether the prevalence of pregnancy-induced school dropout has increased over time in 5 countries that included a question on age at school leaving. Finally, we will explore the extent to which the increased share of adolescent fertility or adolescent marriage associated with school leaving is explained by rising enrollment rates.

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Presented in Session 64: Determinants of Educational Attainment