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Teen marriage is the union of two adolescents, ranging in age from 13 to 21, who are joined in marriage. Many factors contribute to teen marriage such as love, teen pregnancy, religion, security, wealth, family, peer pressure, arranged marriage, economic and/or political reasons, social advancement, and cultural reasons. Studies have shown that teenage married couples are often less advantageous, may come from broken homes, may have little education, and work low status jobs in comparison with those that marry after adolescence.[1]

A majority of teen marriages suffer from complications, with many ending in divorce. In the United States, half of teen marriages dissolve within 15 years of the marriage. Even in Nepal girls and boys who marry without their consent before age 12 in most rural regions later end up divorced saying that they were married at a young age and were unknown about it and don't want to live with each other any more.[2] The rate of teen marriage, however, is decreasing due to the many opportunities that are available now that previously were not available before.

In the 21st century, teen marriage is largely unnreconized or illegal in most countries, as most laws classify it as child abuse.[3] Teen marriage continues to be most prevalent in culturally or geographically isolated parts of the world, and it is decreasing where education is the main focus of the population.



The legal status of circumstances surrounding teenage marriage varies from one area or era to the next. Marriage has often been used as a tool to create allegiances or agreements, rather than a link between two people in love. Almost every country has a legal minimum age for marriage, which ranges from as low as 12 in some Latin American countries to as high as 22 in China. The age requirement is commonly 16 for women and 18 for men. Despite laws concerning the age of marriage, tradition usually takes precedence and marriage continues to occur at very young ages. In many African and Asian countries as much as two-thirds of teenage women are or have been married.[4] In many nations, marrying off a young daughter means one less mouth to feed and no fear of illegitimate children, a dishonor to the family. But these youthful brides often suffer physical and psychological damage, according to a UNICEF report.[5]

Historically, most marriages in western culture have had a late age of marriage and an emphasis on the nuclear family.[6] The percentage of women ages 15–19 who are married in the United States is 3.9%, while in the Democratic Republic of the Congo the percentage is 74%.[5] In the U.S., teenage marriages declined significantly after the mid-20th century, but experienced resurgence in the 1990s, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Census data from 2000 show that 4.5% of 15- to 19-year-olds were married, up from 3.4% in 1990. While that was an increase of almost 50%, it was still far below the 9.5% recorded in 1950.[7]


Pre-20th centuryEdit

  • According to a study, 9.7 percent of teen girls and 0.5 percent of teen boys at ages 15-19 years old were married in 1890.[8]

20th centuryEdit


  • After World War 2, there was a significant increase in teen marriage. During the 1940s, nearly 12 percent of teen girls between the ages of 15 and 19 years old were married. This number increased to over 17 percent by the 1950s.[8]


  • More teen girls were getting married than boys. A study found that 32.1 percent of teens girls at ages 18-19 were married while only 8.9 percent of teen boys got married.[8]


  • Less teenagers got married. Only 11.9 percent of girls and 4.1 percent of boys ages 15-19 got married in 1970.[8]

Religious aspectEdit

The article Religious Heritage and Teenage Marriage suggests that many religions such as Pentecostalism, Fundamentalist Christianity, and other institutionalized sects give the message that leads parents and teens to view early marriage as the only acceptable means of culminating romantic relationships. It also became the tradition to the first generation.[9] More recently, research shows that religion has slowed down the rates of teen marriage and teen pregnancy rate since 1991,[10] a reversal of earlier trends.

Legal aspectEdit

In the Siriono culture of South America, a girl may marry before she reaches puberty.[citation needed] The Murnigin girl of Australia is likely to become a wife when her breasts first begin to develop. The Murmuring boy of Australia might marry for the first time when his beard begins to appear.[citation needed] A Lepcha girl in Tibet is sometimes married at eight years of age, while boys are often married when they are 12 years old.[citation needed]

Boys marry at 15 years of age or less in 10 percent of 58 societies.[citation needed] Another 42 percent marry between 16 and 19 years of age. Thirty-eight percent marry in their twenties, and 10 percent marry when they are 30 years of age. (Ayer) Scientists and psychologists made a discovery in 1963 that in traditional societies, boys and girls have usually begun to do serious work well before they reach puberty. Girls are often doing womanly work at a certain age: cooking, weaving, gardening, and taking care of their siblings from the age of six to the age of nine. Some girls have to do these chores at an even earlier age like three or four. Boys on the other hand, learn how to farm, herd, and hunt before they reach manhood. Some mothers and fathers attempt to let their children to choose their potential loved ones. However, about 70% of decisions regarding marriage of children are made by their parents. Parents who fail to marry a child at the proper age are thought to be neglecting their responsibilities. These parents usually have their reputations ruined. Across cultures, females tend to be married earlier than males. Boys are married later than girls in 85 percent of 45 cultures. In the remaining 15 percent, both sexes marry at a roughly the same age. The differential in age of marriage for males and females is from one to five years in 78 percent of 37 societies and between six and ten years in another 18 percent.[citation needed]

US State listing of teen marriage license lawsEdit


  • Under 18 applicants need certified copy of birth certificate, both parents must be present with identification, or if you have a legal guardian they must be present with a court order and identification. If one or both parents are deceased, proper evidence of such must be provided.
  • Under 18 applicants need certified copy of birth certificate, both parents must be present with identification, or if you have a legal guardian they must be present with a court order and identification.
  • If applicant is under the age of 16, either a notarized parental consent form is needed, or the parents must accompany the applicant, present the proper identification, and sign the parental consent form in front of the clerk issuing the license.
  • If applicant is age 16 – 17 one of the following documents showing proof of age is needed:
    • certified copy of birth certificate
    • current driver's license
    • state or military I.D. card
    • or current passport
  • If applicant is age 16 or under, a court order is also necessary.
  • Under 18 requires consent of both sets of parents.
  • If either the bride or groom is under 18, at least one of the minor's parents, or legal guardian, must appear with the couple. Certified copies of birth certificates are required. The couple must also schedule an appointment with a counselor and then appear before a superior court judge.
  • If applicant is 16 or 17, consent of both parents (or parent having legal custody), or guardian, or judicial approval is necessary.
  • If applicant is under 16, a Judicial Court Order along with parental consent is necessary.
  • If applicant is under the age of 18 written consent of the parent or guardian is required and under the age of 16 the Judge of probate must endorse with written consent on the license.

Results and consequencesEdit


According to the book of Eleanor H. Ayer, another situation that could lead teenagers to an early marriage is often unprotected sex, which could lead to a pregnancy.[12] Other factors that also lead to marriage are love, lust, fear of losing their partner, abuse, extreme parental control, sexual harassment and step-family difficulties.


One in three teen marriages ends in divorce by the age of 25. Additionally, according to Bob and Sheri Stitof, "marriages and divorce rates have increased by 68 percent since 1995. Also, one out of every four teenagers have parents that are divorced."[13]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Teenage Marriage and Marital Breakdown: A Longitudinal Study". Ingentaconnect. 1986-03-01. Retrieved 2016-01-30.
  2. ^ Archived from the original on October 17, 2008. Retrieved November 17, 2008. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ [1][dead link]
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-10-25. Retrieved 2019-05-04.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ a b [2]
  6. ^ "History of Marriage". Retrieved 2016-01-30.
  7. ^ Senderowitz, Judith. Adolescent Health: Reassessing the Passage to Adulthood. Washington, D.C.: World Bank, 1995.
  8. ^ a b c d Hetzel, Alice M.; Cappetta, Marlene (1973). "Teenagers: Marriages, Divorces, Parenthood, and Mortality" (PDF).
  9. ^ Beck, Scoot; H. Cole; Battie S. Hammond; Judith A (December 1993). "Religious Heritage and Teenage Marriage". Review of Religious Research. 35 (2): 117–133. doi:10.2307/3511779. JSTOR 3511779.
  10. ^ Michael Foust. "Studies: Abstinence message, religion shape teen behavior". Archived from the original on 2014-02-20. Retrieved 2016-01-30.
  11. ^ "You searched for united_states/teen_marriage_laws/index.shtml - Marriage Licenses". Retrieved 2016-01-30.
  12. ^ Ayer, Eleanor H. Teen Marriage. The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc. 1990., ISBN 9780823912216
  13. ^ "Historical Look at Teen Marriage". Retrieved 2016-01-30.

External linksEdit