This EDI Research Insight provides a summary of our initial findings from an EDI case study in Bangladesh, which was designed to test the hypothesis that formal laws can influence informal social norms and practices related to child marriage. To do this, we expose randomly chosen individuals to a subset of information about a new child marriage law in Bangladesh communicated via a short video. We find that exposure to information about certain elements of the new law changes individuals’ attitudes and behaviour in certain ways, but does not influence their perceptions about prevailing attitudes in their community.
These findings shed light on the potential – as well as the limits – of policies that attempt to shift social norms by changing the formal law in a setting with weak formal institutions.
Authors: Amrit Amirapu, M Niaz Asadullah and Zaki Wahhaj