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Early marriage vital to economic development

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It is undeniable that marriage is an important social and economic construct in most societies.
In some societies, marriage is the beginning of the youth’s departure from their parents, brothers and sisters. Marriage is not just the union of two persons; it also involves the union of two families or kinship groups.
In this regard, one’s first marriage is the most important for today’s youth because it is the starting point of the transition from adolescent to adulthood. This being so, the timing of first marriage is important. In the past, women’s age at first marriage and the proportion of single women in developed nations were higher, in general, than those in developing countries. It is an interesting fact that early marriage, particularly among women, is the typical pattern in most Asian nations.
Nevertheless, recent decades have witnessed women in developing countries, particularly in Asia, marry later.
This new marriage pattern creates ripples in society, particularly affecting fertility rates. Delayed marriages play a vital role in the decline in birthrates, with the consequence that the reproductive lifespan of a woman is reduced. This, in turn, affects family sizes and population growth rates.
Like other Asian nations, Myanmar has also been witnessing a change in marriage patterns over the last several decades.  Delayed marriage among both men and women, as well as permanent celibacy, by women in particular, are the main characteristics of the marriage transition in Myanmar. This has important implications for fertility because in Myanmar, pregnancies outside marriage are almost non-existent. This is the reason why Myanmar has been experiencing a continuous fertility decline since 1980s.
In a nutshell, as changes in marriage patterns are generally related to economic development, The Global New Light of Myanmar suggests that factors associated with age at first marriage, such as region and residence before marriage, and individual characteristics, like women’s birth cohort, religion, education level, occupation, duration of work before marriage and migration status, be critically analysed  to find out facts that will help this country reformulate its population policy in a way that promotes economic development.

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