This short report summarises some of the main evidence presented in recent literature about the prevalence, trends and impact of child marriage (defined by UNICEF as customary or statutory union where one or both of the partners is under the age of 18). It is based on a 2-day survey of prominent (widely-cited) literature published by credible institutions. It does not constitute a comprehensive literature review. Rather, the report includes only a selection of the more rigorous studies conducted on child marriage; where possible studies which are based on empirical surveys undertaken over the last five years.
The report indicates that in spite of an overall slow increase in age of marriage around the World, there is nevertheless considerable evidence of the continued high prevalence of child marriage in some regions (South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa). It also suggests there is consensus among prominent international organisations that child marriage has significant negative impacts in terms of girl’s rights, and health and education outcomes, and should therefore be a serious concern for development agencies.