Adolescent pregnancy, abortion and birth rates across countries

Gilda Sedgh, Guttmacher Institute
Lawrence B. Finer, Guttmacher Institute
Akinrinola Bankole, Guttmacher Institute
Susheela D. Singh, Guttmacher Institute
Michelle Eilers, Guttmacher Institute

Background: Teen pregnancies can influence women’s educational prospects and social and economic opportunities. Periodic estimation of pregnancies, births and abortions among adolescents can bring attention to countries where the levels of any of these events are exceptionally high or increasing, and can motivate further research and policy action where needed. Objectives: We assess adolescent pregnancy, birth and abortion rates in 2011 and trends in these events since 1995. Methods: Birth, abortion and population data were obtained, in descending order of preference, from official statistics issued by national agencies or compilations issued by the United Nations Statistics Division, Unicef, or the UN Population Division. The incidence of miscarriage was estimated on the basis of data on births and abortions. Results: Among the 21 countries with reliable pregnancy estimates for 2011, the rate was highest in the US (68 pregnancies per 1,000 females 15-19 years old per year) and lowest in Switzerland (8 per 1,000). Teen pregnancy rates appear to be even higher in some former Soviet countries with incomplete abortion statistics. The teen abortion rate was highest in France (21) and lowest in Switzerland (5). Reliable teen birth rates are available for more than 40 countries, and the rate is highest in Azerbaijan (54) and lowest in Switzerland (2). Teen birth and abortion rates declined in the majority of the countries with reliable trend data. The proportion of teen pregnancies that ended in abortion in 2011 ranged from 17% (Slovakia) to 69% (Sweden). In the US, 27% of teen pregnancies ended in abortion. We will additionally examine the pregnancy incidence among very young adolescents (10-14 years old) and we will discuss the possible explanations and implications of our findings and areas for future research.

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Presented in Session 46: Teenage pregnancy outcomes