A multi-year study in Bangladesh showed that giving cooking oil as an incentive to girls and their families can persuade them to postpone marriage.
According to research by Stanford University and Duke University titled 'A Signal to End Child Marriage: Theory and Experimental Evidence from Bangladesh', the cooking oil incentive reduced child marriage under the age of 18 by 17% and by 18% for those under the age of 16.
This conclusion is based on the distribution of oil to families of 15-17 year old girls on the condition that they would not marry before they turn 18.
Nina Buchmann of Stanford University's economics department led the research. It was a randomised study involving thousands of girls across 460 rural villages in six sub-districts in south-central Bangladesh, conducted in partnership with the US-based humanitarian organization 'Save the Children.'
Cooking oil was chosen because of its value in a Bangladeshi family, according to the researchers. They said, it "has to be purchased regularly by every family in Bangladesh and thus is a close substitute to cash", and it "also has a high value to volume ratio, which minimised transport costs".
The study took place 2007 and 2017. Currently, Bangladesh has the second highest rate of child marriage after Niger.
According to a United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) report from April 2020, 29% of women aged 20-24 years in south Asia were married before they turned 18.
For Bangladesh, UNICEF estimates the figure to be 51%.