Over the next decade, 142 million girls are expected to marry before they turn 18. While this practice has diminished in many places, the pace of change has been slow in South Asia, particularly in India, where 40 percent of the world’s child marriages occur.
To help reduce child marriage, the government of India has launched several large-scale conditional cash transfer (CCT) initiatives to incentivize families to delay their daughters’ marriages. CCTs are arrangements in which governments provide individuals cash to encourage social change. CCTs represent a potentially cost-effective, high-impact strategy to delay marriage, however they have not yet been rigorously evaluated.
Through the Impact on Marriage: Program Assessment of Conditional Cash Transfers (IMPACCT) project, ICRW will evaluate the Apni Beti Apna Dhan (ABAD) program, one of the first CCT interventions in India to include delayed marriage as a specific goal. Initiated in 1994, the local government of Haryana dedicated bonds to newly-born girls that can be cashed out after the girls turn 18 and only if they are unmarried. The first beneficiaries will reach 18 in 2012, presenting the first opportunity to assess the program’s success in delaying marriage.
For its evaluation, ICRW will analyze government records and data on the ABAD effort. Experts also will survey girls and parents who participated in the program and those who did not, to compare their attitudes and behaviors related to child marriage. Finally, ICRW will interview key government officials to examine how well ABAD was implemented and identify how it might be improved for future CCT programs.