Rohingya Refugee Muslims Participate in Early Marriages Allison Joyce/Getty Images

The Cost of Child Marriage

Development experts have always measured the human costs of early marriage, but new data are shedding light on the practice's economic impact. As countries work to ban child marriage, advanced economies – led by the G7 – can help by financing programs proven to mitigate one of the most serious social ills developing countries face.

NEW YORK – The human costs of child marriage are well known; around the world, child brides are, on average, less educated, poorer, and more prone to sexual violence than women who marry later in life. But when the economic impact of child marriage is added to this grim tally, the bill is truly staggering.

According to the International Center for Research on Women and the World Bank, ending the practice of child marriage would save billions of dollars in annual welfare expenditures, resulting in global savings of more than $4 trillion by 2030. Simply put, the world cannot afford to allow child marriage to continue.

Many governments have already recognized this. In Indonesia, for example, where the economic impact of child marriage is negatively affecting long-term growth forecasts, President Joko Widodo has vowed to outlaw the practice, a significant pledge in a country where 14% of girls are married before their 18th birthday.

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