Marriage and Divorce in Bangladesh

Ahmed, Ashraf Uddin

     This dissertation examines three aspects of family sociology--family formation (age at first marriage), family structure (age difference between spouses), and family disorganization (divorce) for Bangladesh using the 1975 Bangladesh Fertility Survey data, a multivariate sample of 6510 ever-married women of age 15 to 49.
     From a cross-societal analysis, Goode and Davis argue that with increasing urbanization, industrialization, and education, families around the world are moving towards the same destination regardless of the form with which they begin. The change patterns of some aspects of families in some countries have contradicted their hypotheses such as the declining divorce rate for some countries as opposed to increasing divorce rate in others. A similar phenomenon is also true with age at first marriage. I have studied the influence of these modernizing institutions with a set of socio-economic-demographic factors--work participation, education, current residence, childhood residence, religion--in Bangladesh.
     My results have provided evidence supporting the hypotheses of Goode and Davis--urbanization and industrialization have positive relationship with the age at first marriage as they have observed in cross-societal studies. Age at marriage has increased from 10.8 to 13.2 years over the period 1927 to 1957, and education, urban residence, premarital work participation, and family background have a positive influence on age at marriage.
     Regarding the age difference between spouses, there has been a slight change from a large age difference (13.7 years) to a smaller age difference (12.0 years) over the same period. Urbanization and industrialization did not show much influence on age differences in the same way that has been observed in age at marriage. However, modernizing institutions have had an impact on the change in this aspect of family life.
     My analysis of divorce has partly refuted Davis's hypothesis that urbanization is associated with a higher divorce rate. But other determinants have firmly supported the existing theories--the stronger association of divorce with lower age at marriage, illiteracy, and women's work participation. In conclusion, the central factor behind all the differentials, directly or indirectly, appears to be related to economic factors with some reservation to cultural factors.