Men's Economic Status and Marriage Timing in Rural and Semi-Urban Malawi. By: Pike, Isabel. Social Forces. Sep2021, Vol. 100 Issue 1, p113-136. 24p.

In recent decades, qualitative research from across sub-Saharan Africa has shown how young men are often unable to marry because they lack wealth and a stable livelihood. With survey data, researchers have begun to study how men’s economic circumstances are related to when they marry in the continent’s capitals and larger urban centers. However, our understanding of these dynamics outside of large cities remains limited. Drawing on longitudinal survey data, this paper examines how men’s economic standing, both at the individual and household level, relates to their marriage timing in rural and semi-urban communities in the Salima district of Malawi. The findings show that men who have higher earnings, work in agriculture, and come from a household that sold cash crops were more likely to marry. In contrast, students as well as men from households owning a large amount of land were substantially less likely to marry. Additionally, men living in the semi-urban communities were around half as likely to marry as their rural counterparts. This negative association is largely explained by the greater proportion of men who are students in towns and trading centers and also the relatively less agricultural nature of these communities. These findings show the value of considering both individual and family characteristics in studies of marriage timing and also suggest that as sub-Saharan Africa urbanizes, the age of marriage for men will likely rise.