IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis

The marriage age misconception

21st August, 2020 Editorial

Context: From the ramparts of the Red Fort on Independence Day, the Prime Minister declared that the government is considering raising the legal age of marriage for girls, which is currently 18 years.


  • The government seems to be motivated by the belief that simply raising the age of marriage is the best way to improve the health and nutritional status of mothers and their infants.

Arguments against the belief:

  • Instead of early pregnancy causing malnourishment, they may both be the consequences of poverty.
  • In fact, age only begins to have some real significance when pregnancies are delayed to ages of 25 and above, which is true of only a minuscule proportion of women in India.
  • In this context, it is interesting that the States with high mean ages at marriage of 25 years are erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir, Mizoram, Nagaland, Manipur and Goa. Even Kerala (22 years) and Delhi (23 years) have significantly lower mean ages at marriage.

Declining fertility rates:

  • India’s fertility rates have been declining to well below replacement levels in many States, including those with higher levels of child marriage.
  • This could be the reason why those advocating population control have chosen to shift from fuelling fears about booming populations to expressing concern for the undernourishment of children.


  • Addressing poverty is the key to improving the health and nutritional status of mothers and their infants.
  • In this case, it would be to address the poverty of the mother, which could be done in a myriad ways, beginning with the most direct method of nutritional programmes for girls and women through a range of institutional mechanisms from Anganwadis to schools.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/the-marriage-age-misconception/article32406793.ece#:~:text=Even%20Kerala%20(22%20years)%20and,continue%20to%20hope%20for%20miracles.