July 15, 2017: Indians could be saving an amount of $5 billion (Rs 33,500 crore) in health care over a period of seven years, according to a new report by the World Bank and International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), if it eliminates child marriage and early childbirth. This amount is equivalent to the country’s 2017-18 higher education budget of Rs 33,329 crore.
The report concluded that $17 billion (Rs 1.14 lakh crore) could be saved globally across 18 countries by the year 2030 of which India accounts for $10 billion (62%) due to its large population. The basis of the study is quite rational as prohibiting early marriage and births reduces population growth, which in turn reduces pressure on government budgets.
Lower population growth across 106 countries from ending child marriage can lead to $566 billion savings per year in 2030.
The proportion of girls marrying before legal age increased from 1.78% in 2001 to 2.45% in 2011 in urban India and declined from 2.75% to 2.43% in rural India over the same period. Furthermore, 70 districts spread across 13 states reported: “high incidence” of early marriages, which account for 21% of the country’s child marriages, as reported by IndiaSpend on June 9, 2017.
Another study carried by India Spend in 2015 showed that nearly 17 million Indian children between the ages of 10 and 19 are married. Six million children are born from them, which constitutes 47% of India’s population currently married. Of these married children, 76% (12.7 million) are girls.
The study conducted by World Bank and ICRW not only highlights the problem but also serves an economic dimension to the problem which could be an incentive for the economy as a whole, if eradicated completely.
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