Adolescent fertility is declining worldwide

Population and Societies

490, June 2012

The media focus on adolescent fertility and the public debate on this issue would suggest that its frequency is increasing. In fact, the number of births to very young mothers is actually falling across the world. After describing the current situation, Gilles Pison explains the reason for this decline.
In 2010, there were 54 births per 1,000 women aged 15-19 in
the world, 16% fewer than in 2000. The decline in early childbearing is associated with women’s later marriage or entry into union, in turn a consequence of increased female school enrolment and women’s enhanced status in society. In France, after increasing during the first three-quarters of the twentieth century as attitudes to sexuality became more relaxed, the 1970s and 1980s saw a four-fold decrease in the frequency of early childbearing thanks to the legalization of contraception and abortion.

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