Journal of Social Development in Africa

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Determinants of age at first marriage in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

E Gurmu, R Mace


Timing of marriage has a various socioeconomic and demographic implications. In a non-contraceptive society entry into marriage at an early age increases the number of children a woman would have at the end of her reproductive life while the reverse is true for those entering late. Evolutionary theory supposes that women are ultimately attracted into a conjugal union for purposes of reproducing, whilst modernization theory argues that education and employment opportunities for women cause them to delay the timing of marriage. The objective of this study was to identify determinants of age at first marriage in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It is based on socioeconomic and demographic data obtained from 2976 women of reproductive age (i.e. 15–49 years) residing in the city of Addis Ababa in 2003. The findings of the study revealed that, engaging in  marital life in this city was mainly a function of the economic situation of couples. There is shortage of “economically attractive” men to satisfy the demand of women looking for marriage partners. The high unemployment rate and increased cost of living in the city had tended to delay the timing of family formation in Addis Ababa. However, educated women, though delayingtheir marriage for the purposes of pursuing their education goal, had a  better chance of getting married.

Keywords: Age, first marriage, delayed marriage, determinants, demographic, Ethiopia

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