Adolescent fertility and early parenthood in Iran

Fatemeh Torabi, University of Tehran
Abbas Askari-Nodoushan, University of Yazd, Iran

Because of serious and wide-ranging adverse consequences, adolescent fertility and early parenthood have emerged as issues of great concern during recent decades. However, there are surprisingly little studies on adolescent fertility behaviours in Iran. The aim of the present study is to examine the patterns and differentials associated with transition to early parenthood in Iran. Specifically, this paper addresses the following questions: How common is early childbearing among adolescents? What are the characteristics of adolescent mothers and their husbands? Individual data from the 2% sample of the 2011 Iranian national census have been used for the study. The findings indicate that adolescent fertility rate in Iran is close to the average observed both in the world and in the MENA region. In 2011, 21.53% of female adolescents were married and 5.29% of female adolescents had child/children. Adolescent motherhood is associated with lower educational attainment and education continuation. This finding implies that pregnancy undermines a girl’s ability to continue her education. This pattern can result in reduced skilled human capital and has negative implications for socio-economic development particularly given that Iran has entered the period of demographic window. The study also shows that adolescent marriage is associated with large age difference between spouses (around eight years). Given lower education of adolescent married women and their low labour-force participation, it can result in male dominance in decision makings and increased reliance of wives on their husbands. The paper concludes with a discussion outlining the scope for further research. It suggests deeper research for determining the path to adolescent childbearing and its consequences for self, families and national socio-economic development. There is also need for collecting detailed (longitudinal) data on adolescent fertility in Iran.

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Presented in Session 46: Teenage pregnancy outcomes