The present study aims to gain insights into trends and determinants of adolescent childbearing in three countries of the South and East Shores of the Mediterranean Basin: Morocco, Egypt and Turkey. The study uses data from recent Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS)—Morocco 2003/04, Egypt 2005 and Turkey 2003—to estimate the timing and determinants of first births among adolescent women (under age 20) after controlling for the effects of various socioeconomic and cultural characteristics. The study focuses on married adolescents, who have significantly different experiences than their unmarried counterparts.
The results suggest that the probability of having a first birth before age 20 has substantially declined since the mid-1990s in Morocco and in Turkey, but has declined only moderately in Egypt. In Morocco and Turkey the decline in adolescent childbearing has been driven by all socioeconomic segments, while in Egypt the decline has been driven by women with the lowest educational attainment. Early marriage, low educational attainment of women, poor welfare status and high spousal age difference constitute the major socioeconomic and socio-cultural factors facilitating adolescent childbearing in all three countries. The findings suggest that policies and programs toward decreasing fertility during adolescence should be directed to promoting female education beyond the primary level. Also all types of reproductive assistance programs should have a husband dimension.