It is widely acknowledged that age at marriage has a significant influence on fertility, particularly in countries where childbearing occurs within marriage. However, the complexities of this relationship are poorly understood, especially during fertility transitions. This paper investigates the complex relationship between marriage age and marital fertility by examining the initiation of childbearing and the transition to higher order births by marriage cohorts in India using data collected in a nationally representative survey in 2005-06. Results from the discrete-time logit models show that women marrying late have a shorter first birth interval than women marrying at a younger age. But second and higher birth intervals are longer among those marrying late compared with those marrying early. Given that women marrying at a younger age have shorter second and higher order birth intervals, efforts to promote late marriage could lead to a reduction in fertility and improve child and maternal health.
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