Such fears and social pressures have been proposed as causes that lead to child marriages.
Extreme poverty may make daughters an economic burden on the family, which may be relieved by their early marriage, to the benefit of the family as well as the girl herself.
This practice intensified after the Jewish community was expelled from Spain, and resettled in the Ottoman Empire.
Today, child marriage is still fairly widespread, particularly in developing countries, such as parts of Africa, The incidence of child marriage has been falling in most parts of the world.
In many cases, only one marriage-partner is a child, usually the female.
Causes of child marriages include poverty, bride price, dowry, cultural traditions, laws that allow child marriages, religious and social pressures, regional customs, fear of remaining unmarried, illiteracy, and perceived inability of women to work for money.
The countries with the highest observed rates of child marriages below the age of 18 are Niger, Chad, Mali, Bangladesh, Guinea and the Central African Republic, with a rate above 60%.
The practice began to be questioned in the 20th century, with the age of individuals' first marriage increasing in many countries and most countries increasing the minimum marriage age.