by Claudeth Mocon-Ciriaco, August 13, 2016
ABOUT P33 billion is lost in potential lifetime income of women who get pregnant or give birth in their teen years, according to a study on teenage pregnancy in the Philippines.
At a recent forum on young parenthood, health economist Alejandro Herrin calculated that a teenager who gets pregnant and does not finish high school may potentially lose earnings up to P83,000 a year when she gets paid for work at age 20. This is about 87 percent of the potential annual income of a 20-year-old woman who completed her high-school education and did not get pregnant in her teen years.
Using 2012 and 2013 data from several surveys of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), Herrin predicted that early childbearing will reduce the probability of high school completion. Early childbearing refers to either getting pregnant or giving birth during the teenage years.
He then estimated the daily wage-rate profile of Filipino women who began childbearing before their 20s. “There is a wide gap in the estimated daily wage rate between a girl who got pregnant early and a girl who gets to finish school,” Herrin said.
The study shows that completing high-school education increases daily-wage rates of women by P300. At age 20, a girl who began childbearing before age 18 may only earn about P46 a day, compared to the P361 per day estimate for someone who completed high school and did not get pregnant early.
“When taken altogether, the potential lifetime earnings lost due to early childbearing is P33 billion, which is equal to 1.1 percent of the Philippines’s GDP in 2012,” Herrin added.
Herrin’s study underscored the economic implications of teenage pregnancy. His estimates showed that early childbearing reduces high-school completion rates and, eventually, decreases the predicted daily wage-rate profile of women in the Philippines.
On average, 72 percent of women aged 18 and 19 are expected to complete high school if they did not begin childbearing before age 18. The predicted completion rate for teens who began childbearing early is lower at only 65 percent.
“These results suggest that policies on reducing early childbearing are likely to have substantial impact on the education and economic conditions of women and their families,” Herrin concluded.
After the release of a regional report citing the rising prevalence of teen pregnancy in the Philippines, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) commissioned several studies on early pregnancy and young parenthood in January 2016. The Center for Health Solutions and Innovations Philippines Inc. (CHSI), a non-governmental organization, recently presented the research findings of Herrin and other experts, at a forum for advocates of teen health.
“We need to realize that teen pregnancy is not just a health issue. When a girl gets pregnant, her health, education and relationships with her family and community all get entangled in a life-changing roller-coaster,” UNFPA Country Representative Klaus Beck said.
Another study by renowned demographer, Corazon Raymundo, cited risk behaviors and effects of teenage pregnancy on the social environment of a Filipino girl. Using data from the 2013 Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Survey (YAFSS), Raymundo presented an alarming profile of a pregnant teen.
“Smoking and the use of alcohol and drugs among teens may predict the likelihood of teen pregnancy,” Raymundo said. A girl who admitted having used drugs is six times more likely to engage in premarital sex than a girl who has not used any drugs.
Other factors that predict early sexual encounters and teenage pregnancy are living away from home, being idle or doing nothing and having older siblings who have gotten pregnant or given birth in their teen years.
Reasonable parenting style and open communication with parents may prevent teen pregnancy. Raymundo and her research team interviewed parents and teenagers in 10 different provinces and found that both parents and their adolescents are open to talking about sex, teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.
“They just don’t know how and where to start,” said Raymundo, pointing out the need to help parents communicate more effectively with their teen children.
The Commission on Population (Popcom) is pushing for the enactment of an Adolescent Health Act. “We are starting to gather our evidences to push for a law that will help adolescents and their parents gain better access to information and services on adolescent health and youth development,” said Juan Antonio Perez III, Popcom executive director.