Timing of First Marriage among Egyptian Women

Gheda Temsah, University of Maryland

Youth transitions to adulthood, including first marriage, are the subject of numerous contemporary studies. However, recent findings challenge traditional approaches underscoring women’s educational attainment, work participation, and urban residence. Using data from 2000 DHS I explore timing of marriage among Egyptian women by focusing on cultural attitudes. The literature on the relationship between attitudes and behavior is mixed, and cultural attitudes are difficult to measure. However, I propose women’s ideal number of children as a construct of gender attitudes in so far as women who express the desire for larger families are more likely to be traditional and oriented toward reproductive roles. Net of the effects of education, work status and other background variables, women with more traditional family size ideals are more likely to marry at younger ages. These results underscore the need to operationalize cultural attitudes in our models and beg the need for better, more culturally-relevant measures.

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Presented in Poster Session 4