AbstractChild marriage places girls at an increased risk for dropping out of school early, sexually transmitted infections, teenage childbirth, and accompanying childbirth complications, including maternal mortality. The determinants of child marriage are not clearly understood, which hinders efforts to mount effective interventions. This study examined the link between economic resources and child marriage by investigating whether maternal and paternal asset ownership were longitudinally associated with daughters’ child marriage in Ethiopia. Drawing upon household bargaining theory, it was hypothesized that maternal assets would be more protective of daughters’ child marriage than paternal assets. Data for 4,293 girls from the nationally representative Ethiopia Socioeconomic Survey, fielded in 2011 and 2014, were employed. Logistic regression and instrumental variable analyses were used to examine the relationship between transition into child marriage during the study period and maternal and paternal assets, controlling for child-, family-, and community-level characteristics. Results show that a one standard deviation increase in mother’s assets was associated with 37–53% lower odds of daughter’s child marriage whereas a one standard deviation increase in paternal asset holdings was associated with 0–37% higher odds of daughter’s child marriage. Effects were strongest in regions where the dominant mode of marriage payments is bride price. These results suggest that the link between economic resources and child marriage depends on the gender of the parent who owns the resources. This study also highlights the interconnectedness of two targets of the gender equality Sustainable Development Goal—improvement of women’s ownership of assets and the elimination of child marriage—and suggests that the realization of one gender equality target could have implications for other targets.
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