The rise in the average marriage age is a phenomenon of recent centuries. It has not only influenced the legislation all over the world but also the Muslim marriage culture.
In the 18th century the minimum legal age to marry was 14 for men and 12 for women, in most of the regions. However, marriage at this age is considered an offense today. Young people prefer to marry at older ages than their parents did. You will find lesser percentage of women marrying before age of 20 today.
The average age has arisen not only in Europe and USA but also in the Asia, North Africa, Near East and Latin America. The trend has influenced even sub-Saharan Africa. Sociologists have proposed a number of reasons for this rise in the average age of marriage. A few of them are:
The economic conditions of the modern complex society have been forcing the young peoples to find financially supportive partners. The males in Asia are expected to support their wives and children so the females search for financially sound grooms.
On the other hand it is becoming difficult for males to have solid financial resources in their early ages. Even jobs are given to the well educated and highly professional people and you can not expect young people under 20 years of age to come up to the terms.
The quest for formal education has also contributed in rise of average marriage age. The children generally complete their primary education at the 9th to 10th year of their ages. Then they go for the next stages and it is natural for them to delay their marriage till they complete a moderate level of education. In Pakistan, India, Brazil, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico and Paraguay etc, the average age of marriage is higher in educated people than the uneducated people.
You shall submit individual affidavit to the marriage officer stating your age, permanent and temporary places of residence, marital status, mental status and any mutual relation if exists. You are also required to give proof of your age (with school certificate, passport or identity card) and proof of residence. Your declaration should be duly attested by the notary public and signed by the marriage officer.
The marriage may take in any form with any kinds of marriage customs. However, no marriage shall be valid until the parties to marriage give their consent and acceptance in presence of the marriage officer and three competent witnesses.
The urbanization has played a vital role in rise of average age of marriage. In urban areas it was easier to find compatible couples. However, it becomes a challenge in the urban set-up. Furthermore, in rural areas of Asian countries, the secondary education is not given its due weight. However, in urban areas the secondary and higher education plays very important role in the future financial condition of the people. The enrollment in the secondary level has increased in Pakistan but drop out rate is still higher in the rural areas.
The derailing family structure has also contributed in rise of average age of marriage. The family units are functional in Asian countries. It is considered one of the reasons behind lower average marriage age in Pakistan, India and other Eastern countries. Most of men and women find their marriage partners in their families. Even otherwise the families themselves make effort to find out suitable candidates for their children. However, the situation is entirely different in most of the European countries. In Most of the European countries the average marriage age is about 30 years for men and 26 years for women.
In India, Pakistan and many Muslim countries some marriage customs have also played a vital role in increasing average marriage age. The marriage custom of dowry is rejected by most of the literate people in their discussions but it is practiced in many areas vehemently.
Furthermore, the marriage custom of dowry is different in different regions. In some countries like India and Pakistan, the parents of the bride had to pay dowry to the groom to get their daughter married. In Middle East the groom has to pay dowry to the parents of the bride. For simplicity of matters you may equate dowry with price that one of the parties has to pay. Some families don’t have means to pay this price and make long effort to meet the marriage customs.
Readiness to Marriage
In West the marriage is loosening its importance as a social institution. The men and women don’t feel themselves ready to marry in early age. The young men receive less attention than
women so they don’t find themselves ready to marry soon. Everywhere they prefer to marry in older age than women do.
The readiness of marriage has also contributed in increase of average marriage age. Readiness of women to marriage is traditionally equated with puberty. However, the factor of puberty contributes very little for marriage of men.
World Average Marriage Age
Worldwide average marriage age for men is 28.7 and 26.8 for women. The average age for marriage in Pakistan is 22.8 (males) and 19.7 (females), India 23.9 (m) 19.3 (f), USA 27.0 (m) 25.0 (f), U.K 29.8 (m) 27.7 (f), Egypt 27.9 (m) 22.2 (f), Libya 32.0 (m) 29.0 (f), Australia 30.6 (m) 26.1 (f), South Africa 28.9 (m) 27.1 (f) and so on.
It is important here to note that rise in average marriage has not been consistent throughout the history. You can find that the trend in rise has momentarily stopped and even decreased. However, the different data sources show that whatever humps it faced, the trend in rise of average marriage age has reached to the highest level today.