The younger women marry, the earlier they start childbearing and the longer they are exposed to the risk of conception. They lose the chance of longer schooling and of employment, and they enter marriage with less motivation and fewer personal resources to plan their families successfully. Pregnancy at an early age is a severe health risk both to the mother and her baby. In addition, early marriage means a shorter gap between successive generations, significantly increasing the birth rate.
In South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa about half of all women aged between fifteen and nineteen are, or have been married; in the Middle East and North Africa the proportion is close to a quarter. It falls to less than 20% in Latin America and in East Asia, and to less than 5% in Hong Kong and Korea. In Libya, 70% of women aged fifteen to nineteen have been married. In Morocco, 15 perent of girls marry under the age of 15. In Bangladesh the mean age at marriage for women is sixteen.