Early marriage, which is associated with a wide range of negative health and socioeconomic outcomes, may be a response to conflict and displacement. Since the onset of the Syrian conflict in 2011, there has been considerable attention to reports of high and potentially increasing rates of early marriage among Syrian refugee women. 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. We find no evidence of an increase in early marriage rates after refugees’ arrival to Jordan. Rates of early marriage among the Syrians now in Jordan were higher than preconflict national rates and have remained similar postdisplacement, although poverty and security concerns have created new drivers for accelerating marriage for young women. Other dynamics of the Syrian marriage market in displacement may act to decelerate marriage rates, including declining rates of consanguinity and inability to meet marriage costs. Analysis of early marriage in displacement must be placed within the context of change in marriage practices among refugees more broadly.
Published in a peer-reviewed journal of the Population Council.