Justification of the study: Rwanda like most tropical African countries is characterized by high fertility. There are many possible explanations for high incidence of fertility, but most researcher agree that at least, it reflects that reproduction starts at young ages, age at first marriage is early, and contraceptives are not being used in a widespread manner. Methodology: This study attempts a survival analysis to calculate the cumulative probability of age at first marriage in Rwanda for married women aged 15 to 45 years old according to their education level and their place of residence. The analyses are based on nationally representative data from the 10,421 women aged 15-49 interviewed in the 2000 Rwanda Demographic and Health Survey. Results: The mean for age at first marriage in Rwanda is 19.91 (16.47, 23.34), while the median survival time before first marriage for women of age 15-49 during the survey is 24.27 years. However, the duration varies according to education and place of residence. The median of the duration before the first marriage seems to increase with the education level. 50% of women with no education have their first marriage earlier at the age of 21.69, while half of those who studied beyond secondary school reach the age of 31.35 before their first marriage. In Rural areas, women get married also earlier compared to cities. By the age 25-30, 76.5% of them will be married while only 55% are expected to be married in urban areas. Conclusion: Young girls who get married before the age of 20 face considerable health risks during pregnancy and childbirth. The timing of the first birth has also important demographic implications. Under natural fertility regime, the early onset of childbearing tends to boost the number of children a woman will have. Age at marriage is therefore an important factor associated with the age at which a woman first gives birth. As a policy measure, the reproductive health program in Rwanda should focus on youth, whether in schools or elsewhere by providing information and services in ways that persuade the young generation to delay the age at first marriage. It is also suggested that priority be given to providing young women with more education or employment opportunities as an alternative to early marriage.


J. Ntaganira



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Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, National University of Rwanda

Year Of Publication