|Community Characteristics of Female Autonomy, Status and Adolescent Childbearing Related Behaviour: Demographic Health Survey Nicaragua 1998 and 2001|
||Kokusai Hoken Iryo (Journal of International Health), 28(2): 63-74; DOI: 10.11197/jaih.28.63
High adolescent fertility rates still persist in many developing countries. Adolescent childbearing often leads to negative outcomes including physical and mental disorders of mothers, a high incidence of infant death and household poverty. Obviously, it is important to explore the determinants of adolescent reproduction and its related behaviour to ensure its prevention. This study assesses the impact of the level of female autonomy and status of the community on adolescent childbearing, age of sexual debut and age of marriage.
This paper uses the pooled micro data from the Demographic and Health Survey Nicaragua 1998 and 2001. A logistic model is used to estimate the impact of the level of female autonomy and status of the community on adolescent childbearing, age of sexual debut and age of marriage. These variables are aggregated for each municipality using data on women aged over 20. Four female community autonomy variables are used. They are the percentage of women who have the final say on: own healthcare, making large household purchases, visit to family or relatives, and what food is to be cooked each day. Three variables of female status in the community are mean age at first marriage, mean age differences between spouses, and the percentage of those enrolled in secondary level education.
Analysis proved that the level of autonomy and status of women in the community influence adolescent childbearing, age of sexual debut, and age of marriage. Particularly, the probability of younger sexual debut and younger marriage decreases when a community has a higher level of female autonomy and status.
The results indicate the importance of community intervention to strengthen female autonomy and promote female status in order to prevent adolescent childbearing.