Measuring the distribution of adolescent births among 15-19-year-olds in Chile: an ecological study

J Fam Plann Reprod Health Care. 2017 Oct;43(4):302-308. doi: 10.1136/jfprhc-2015-101230. Epub 2017 Jun 21.


Background: Although within Latin America Chile has one of the lowest birth rates among adolescents, it has a high rate in comparison to other developed nations.

Aim: To explore trends in birth rates among adolescents by selected demographics in Chile.

Methods: The national trend in birth rates was examined for women aged 15-19 years between 1992 and 2012. The birth rates for regions and communes were calculated using birth and census data and were analysed to determine its relationship to the regional or communal poverty rate, which were obtained from the Casen Survey. Differences in educational attainment were explored among adolescents with first-order and second-order or higher births using the Chi-square test.

Results: The birth rate among adolescents has experienced a 25% decline in the past 20 years. Cross-regional variance in birth rates could not be explained by poverty rates. Within the Metropolitan Region, there is a positive correlation between poverty and adolescent birth rates. Among adolescents giving birth, 67% had completed 10-12 years of school at birth, but there is a significant difference in educational attainment between girls with a first-order and those with a higher-order birth.

Conclusions: In Chile, the adolescent birth rate varies greatly among regions and communes. This study found that urban and wealthy areas had lower birth rates than poor and rural ones, and that girls with a first-order birth had completed more years of school than girls with higher-order births.

Keywords: Chile; adolescent births; social inequality; teen pregnancy.