Adolescent Birth Rate Around the World

A new study by the UN Population Fund, "Motherhood in Childhood: Facing the Challenge of Adolescent Pregnancy," reports that "one in five girls in poor countries becomes pregnant before the age of 18. This comes to 7.3 million births, of which 2 million are born to girls under 15.  The figure may be even higher, because surveys (taken in 81 countries) do not generally question children under 15.  A measure more broadly used is that of the adolescent birth rate.  African countries fare worst.  In Chad and Niger, where the child-marriage rate is the highest in the world, there are around 200 live births for every 1,000 women aged 15 to 19.  Education makes a huge difference. The UN calculates that among developing nations, the birth rate ranges from 42 for the richest quintile to 119 for the poorest. Yet for those with no education the rate is much higher, at 154, falling to 119 for a primary education and 56 for a secondary education or more. In other words, schooling equalises the differences in the adolescent birth rate that exist in disparities of wealth. The longer a girl stays in school, the less chance there is that she will marry young and have children. As for America, it has the highest rate of teenage births in the rich world."

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Frederique Laubepin

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