Marriage and childbirth as factors in dropping out from school: An analysis of DHS data from sub-Saharan Africa
Lloyd,Cynthia B.; Mensch,Barbara S.
Population Studies 62(1): 1-13
Publication date: 2008
Leaving school prematurely is often claimed to be among the most negative consequences of early marriage and pregnancy for girls in less-developed countries. However, an analysis of the relative frequency with which these events actually occur or are named as reasons for leaving school reveals that, at least in the case of francophone Africa, they explain no more than 20 percent of dropouts. To the extent that demographic events trump school or family factors as determinants of school-leaving, our data indicate that it is union formation-defined by the DHS as first marriage or cohabitation-rather than childbirth that is more likely to have this effect. "Schoolgirl pregnancy" typically accounts for only between 5 and 10 percent of girls' departures from school. Furthermore, the risks of leaving school because of pregnancy or marriage have declined over time with the decline in rates of early marriage and childbearing.[A digest of this article appeared as "Pregnancy and marriage are not the main reasons for leaving school in Africa," 2008, International Family Planning Perspectives 34(3): 147-148.]