This week, hundreds of thousands of young people will graduate from secondary schools across Central Asia.A flurry of activity frequently accompanies the end of the school year, as girls in their late teens make the choice between continuing school or starting a family.Still, not every family can afford expenses like dormitories or books.

Financial necessity is clearly one of the factors affecting the incentive to marry, judging by some of the areas where trends are reversed.

While marriages are coming earlier for so many people in the region, increasing numbers of young adults in prosperous cities in energy-rich Kazakhstan are waiting into their 30s to marry.

Alo Hamidova, an 18-year-old Uzbek student, tells RFE/RL that many of her female classmates, at a medical college in Tashkent, are married. For instance, half of the girls here -- in the second year [of studies] at our medical school -- are married. "In the rest of the country, girls get married a bit later - between 19 and 22 years old. Her financial status and her parents' backgrounds are important." Nowhere Else To Go?

A lack of alternatives appears to be contributing to a declining trend in the age of brides.

A majority of the region's marriages are arranged by parents.

Dating is uncommon in the villages of Central Asia; the idea of unmarried couples living together is virtually unheard of.

In many cases, they are willing to postpone the joys of family life in favor of achieving more in their careers.

Elsewhere, however, the ranks are growing of young men and women who have settled down early to start their families.

University education is not an option for many young women.