a large contrast, however, between the low-income category and these other two. That is, men and women in low-income countries married earlier than their counterparts in wealthier countries. Among women, proportions ever married at ages 15-19 and 20-24 have declined in countries in all income categories; however, at ages 25-29, declines have occurred only among those in the more affluent countries, that is, those in the lower middle- and the upper middle-income categories. Among men, while there is evidence of a decline in proportions ever married for those in lower middle- and upper middle-income countries, there is no change over time among men in low-income countries.

Trends in Marriage Timing

To reflect the earlier timing of marriage among women, we examined the proportions in a union before ages 18, 20, and 25 for women and before ages 20, 25, and 30 for men. We compared these proportions across age groups (20-24, 30-34, and 40-44) in order to get a sense of time trends. Tables 7-5 and 7-6, which are based on the DHS, provide data on the percentage of women ever in a union by ages 18 and 20 for three cohorts and by age 25 for two cohorts by region and income level.

The trends revealed by Table 7-5 are more or less consistent with those shown in Table 7-1. First, the regional rankings essentially follow the same sequence; moreover, the ranking changes little by age group. Western/Middle Africa is generally the region with the greatest percentage of women marrying at young ages, followed by South-central/South-eastern Asia, Eastern/Southern Africa, and the Caribbean and Central America. The Middle East, South America, and the former Soviet Asia have smaller proportions of women who married early. Second, a comparison of the percentage married by ages 18 and 20 across age cohorts indicates that there has been little change in South America, the Caribbean and Central America, and the former Soviet Asia. Indeed, in the former Soviet Asia, a greater percentage of 20-24-year-olds have married early than 30-34-year-olds. Other regions reveal a considerable decline in the percentage married by these ages, with a slightly greater percentage decline by age 18 than by age 20. The fall-off in early marriage is particularly sizeable in the Middle East, where there has been a 49 percent decline between 20-24-year-olds and 40-44-year-olds in the percentage married by age 18, and a 38 percent decline in the percentage married by age 20.

As for marriage by age 25, in all regions except South America, over 80 percent of women have married or are living with a partner by that age, with little change across the 30-34 and 40-44 age cohorts, except for the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa. Comparing the 30-34-year-old cohort with the 40-44-year-old cohort for all three ages at marriage, it is clear that

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