Marriage and Childbearing among Adolescents and Young Women: What Do We Know from Household-Based Surveys and Is It Correct?

Vladimira Kantorova, United Nations Population Division

This study discusses reasons why household-based surveys might under-represent young unmarried and childless women and therefore not capture correctly the life experiences of young women. We examine the differences in marital status data between household-based surveys and censuses in several Asian countries. To determine the extent of over-estimation of fertility levels, we adjust age-specific fertility rates on the basis of marital status distribution in censuses. The implications for interpretations of the fertility trends are far-reaching. When analyzing fertility trends only from DHS, Bangladesh achieved in two decades a relatively small reduction in adolescent childbearing. Yet the story may, in fact, be different: the postponement of childbearing —concurrent with the postponement in marriage as seen in the census data—resulted in a decline of ABR to half the level from the early 1990s and played a key role in the rapid fertility decline in Bangladesh.

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Presented in Poster Session 2: Fertility Intentions and Behavior