Early Marriage, Age of Menarche, and Female Schooling Attainment in Bangladesh
Using data from rural Bangladesh, we explore the hypothesis that women attain less schooling as a result of social and financial pressure to marry young. We isolate the causal effect of marriage timing using age of menarche as an instrumental variable. Our results indicate that each additional year that marriage is delayed is associated with 0.22 additional year of schooling and 5.6 percent higher literacy. Delayed marriage is also associated with an increase in use of preventive health services. In the context of competitive marriage markets, we use the above results to obtain estimates of the change in equilibrium female education that would arise from introducing age of consent laws.