One in ten young Filipino women age 15-19 has begun childbearing: 8 percent are already mothers and another 2 percent are pregnant with their first child according to the results of the 2013 National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS). Among young adult women age 20 to 24, 43 percent are already mothers and 4 percent are pregnant with their first child (Table 1).
Early pregnancy and motherhood varies by education, wealth quintile, and region. It is more common among young adult women age 15 to 24 with less education than among those with higher education (44 percent for women with elementary education versus 21 percent for women with college education). Early childbearing is also more common in Caraga (38 percent) and Cagayan Valley (37 percent) than other regions. The proportion of young adult women who have begun childbearing is higher among those classified as belonging to poor households than those in wealthier households (37 percent for young women in the lowest wealth quintile versus 13 percent for women in the highest wealth quintile).
The survey also reveals that one in five (19 percent) young adult Filipino women age 18 to 24 years had initiated their sexual activity before age 18. Some of them would have had their first intimate sexual act before marriage. The survey reveals that 15 percent of young adult women age 20 to 24 had their first marriage or began living with their first spouse or partner by age 18. This proportion is lower than the proportion (19 percent) earlier cited regarding initiation by young women of an intimate sexual activity. Age at first marriage hardly changed over the years. A slightly higher proportion (17 percent) of older cohort of women (age group 40-49) had their first marriage at age 18 (Table 3).
Initiation of sexual activity before age 18 is more common among young adult women with less education and those in poorer households. Over 40 percent of young adult women with some elementary education, compared with only 7 percent of those with college education, reported having their first intimate sexual act at age 18 (Table 2). Similarly, 36 percent of young adult women in the lowest wealth quintile, compared with only 10 percent of those in the highest wealth quintile, had their first intimate sexual act before age 18. Across regions, the proportion ranges from 11 percent in Cordillera Administrative Region to 27 percent in Davao. The proportion of young adult women reporting first intimate sexual act before age 18 is 22 percent for rural areas and 17 percent for urban areas. Among young women age 15 to 24, 2 percent reported initiating their sexual activity before turning 15.
The 2013 NDHS is a nationally representative survey of almost 16,000 households and 19,000 women age 15-49. The survey was conducted from August 12 to October 16, 2013. The 2013 NDHS is designed to provide information on fertility, family planning, and health in the country. Other important findings of the 2013 NDHS will be presented in a data dissemination forum on September 2, 2014 at Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria, Ortigas Ave. cor. ADB Ave., Quezon City.
(Sgd) ROMEO S. RECIDE
(Interim Deputy National Statistician) Officer-in-Charge)