Since the onset of the Syrian conflict there has been considerable attention to reports of high rates of early marriage among Syrian refugee women. Yet assessing whether early marriage has increased among refugee populations has been complicated by data issues. Using nationally representative survey data from Jordan in 2016 and Syria in 2009, as well as qualitative interviews with Syrian refugee youth in Jordan, we examine changes in age at marriage and drivers of early marriage, as well as change in marriage practices more broadly, among Syrian refugees in Jordan. Our results show that the Syrian refugee population now in Jordan had younger ages of marriage than the national (pre-conflict) rate in Syria, since prior to their displacement. Rates of early marriage among the population of Syrians currently in Jordan have remained similar from pre-to post-conflict, both in descriptive terms and as measured by multivariate hazard models. Nevertheless, drivers of early marriage may have changed to some degree; as with previous literature, we find that poverty and security concerns have created additional drivers for early marriage. However, young refugee men also felt that the challenging economic conditions they faced as refugees created disincentives to marry. Age at marriage must therefore also be examined along with other changes in marriage practices; our findings suggest that marriage expenditures may be lower post-conflict, whereas independent residence upon marriage and consanguinity are both less common. Along with age at marriage, these other marriage outcomes have important long-term implications for women’s wellbeing.
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