Female orphans in Africa are no more likely to marry early than nonorphans

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Author: S. London
Date: Sept. 2009
Publisher: Guttmacher Institute
Document Type: Report
Length: 1,014 words
Lexile Measure: 1550L

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Female adolescents in Sub-Saharan Africa who have lost one or both parents are generally no more likely than their non-orphaned counterparts to marry before age 18, according to a study using population-based data from 10 countries. (1) However, in four of the countries, female orphans have increased odds of early sexual debut (odds ratios, 1.4-2.1), and in two countries they have increased odds of early pregnancy (1.7 in each). The risks associated with different types of orphanhood--having lost a mother, a father or both parents--vary across countries. In addition, adolescents who are more socio-economically disadvantaged or have no formal education have elevated odds of some or all of the outcomes studied.

Researchers analyzed data on females aged 15-17 from Demographic and Health Surveys and related household surveys conducted in 2003-2006 in Benin. Chad, Congo (Brazzaville), Cote d'lvoire, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe. Young women were considered orphans if either or both of their parents had died or if the status of oil her or both parents was unknown. The researchers examined associations among a variety of variables--including orphan status, education, religious affiliation, wealth quintile, and urban or rural residence--and three sexual and reproductive outcomes: early marriage (defined as having ever been married), early sexual debut (defined as having ever had sex) and early pregnancy (defined as having ever been pregnant).

The number of female adolescents in the sample ranged from 711 in Cote d'lvoire to 1.801 in Benin. Overall, 16-40% of the adolescents in the 10 countries were orphans; most were,...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A210607319