The Likelihood of a First Pregnancy Among Female Filipino Adolescents: 1982 and 1994 Young Adult Fertility Surveys

by Gilda Salvacion A. Diaz, Master of Arts in Demography (1999)

The country’s future is in the hands of the youth and what they do today will have a bearing on the future of the Philippine society. The youth compromise twenty per cent of the population and they are contributing about a third of total births, although adolescent fertility has generally declined, its contribution to overall fertility has been steadily increasing.

Research on sexuality among adolescents abound in the Western and Asian literature. There are local studies on the subject matter, mostly on antecedents of sexual intercourse. These few studies have shown the gaps in adolescent research. Thus this study will try to explore adolescent pregnancy and the factors that may predispose women to such an occurrence.

The study uses data from two young adult fertility surveys conducted in the country in 1982 and 1994. A restricted sample of sexually active women 15 to 24 years of age was obtained. Bivariate and multivariate analysis were employed to describe the first pregnancy experiences of women between these two periods. It also interprets whether changes observed in the different stages of socialization are important influences in changing first pregnancy experiences. This study determines if there is a difference in adolescent pregnancy prevalence between 1982 and 1994 and identifies the determinants of adolescent pregnancy.

The results of the study are as follows:
  • Prevalence of adolescent pregnancy is higher in 1994 compared to 1982.
  • The likelihood of a first pregnancy among sexually active adolescent women significantly increases with increasing age having a first boyfriend.
  • The likelihood of having a first pregnancy among sexually active adolescent women significantly decreases with increasing age before first pregnancy.
  • The difference in pregnancy likelihood between the two time periods can be attributed to:
    • increasing proportion of single parent households from 1982 and 1994;
    • later age before pregnancy of a sexually active adolescent woman in 1994 compared to 1962; and
    • age differences between the two groups of women.

Although the increase in adolescent pregnancy prevalence from 1982 to 1994 is small, policymakers and planners should be concerned since the corresponding actual numbers of sexually active adolescent becoming pregnant at an early age have increased.

Recognizing the extent of sexually active and child bearing is a first step and the findings of this study can be used as a basis to increase awareness of the causes and consequences of adolescent pregnancy. The policies and programs that could help adolescent women become responsible adults are in the following areas:

  • increasing access to quality, affordable and appropriate reproductive health services
  • providing good sex and family life education that will emphasize postponement of sexual activity and childbearing; responsible dating and proper boy-girl relationships
  • developing better alternatives in education and employment
  • developing IEG materials that takes into consideration the different needs of different age groups of adolescents
  • strengthening the family unit and encouraging them to support and nurture their adolescent children even beyond adolescence

Preparation for another round of the young adult fertility survey is recommended to continue the analysis to include factors that could not be measured in the previous surveys but are believed to be important predictors of adolescent pregnancy.