Marriage in transition: evidence on age, education, and assets from six developing countries

Kelly Hallman, Population Council
Agnes R. Quisumbing, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Despite the centrality of marriage in an individual’s life history, the literature on marriage patterns pays little attention to men. This paper examines trends in education, age, and assets at marriage for men and women, and spousal differences in these variables in six countries. Multivariate results indicate that husband education advantage at marriage has decreased in three countries, has not changed in two, and has increased in one. Husband age seniority has decreased in four countries and remained constant in two. However, the distribution of assets at marriage continues to favour husbands. In three countries, the husband-wife asset difference has not changed through time—and therefore continues to favour husbands—and has increased in the other three. While reductions in husband-wife education and age gaps may improve the balance of power within the family, persistent differences in assets favouring husbands may have important effects on family well-being.

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Presented in Session 153: Gender