Correlates of Adolescent Pregnancy in la Paz, Bolivia: Findings from a Quantitative-Qualitative Study

By Lipovsek, Vaija; Karim, Ali Mebryar et al. | Adolescence, Summer 2002 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Correlates of Adolescent Pregnancy in la Paz, Bolivia: Findings from a Quantitative-Qualitative Study

Lipovsek, Vaija, Karim, Ali Mebryar, Gutierrez, Emily Zielinski, Magnani, Robert J., Castro Gomez, Maria del Carmen, Adolescence

Adolescence is a transitional period characterized by opportunities for healthful development as well as risks for adverse health and social outcomes. It is now widely recognized that an adolescent's prospects for healthful development are influenced by myriad social, psychological, economic, and cultural factors (Kirby, 1999; Leffert et al., 1998; Resnick et al., 1997). Some of these (e.g., poverty, affiliation with peers who engage in high-risk behaviors, low self-esteem) appear to be risk factors for adverse health and social outcomes, while others (e.g., high parental educational expectations, "connectedness" with family and school, high self-efficacy) appear to be protective in that they tend to be associated with more favorable outcomes. Recent adolescent health research has assigned high priority to better understanding the relative importance of such factors so that youth programs might be developed to better reinforce the protective factors and mediate the risk factors that may be present in a given setting (Leffert et al., 1998; Resnick et al., 1997).

The present study was undertaken to address the question of why some female adolescents in La Paz, Bolivia, become pregnant while others in similar circumstances avoid early pregnancy. To investigate this question, the present study combined a nearest-neighbor case-control design with qualitative research methods (focus-group discussions). Study subjects for the case-control design consisted of matched pairs of female adolescents of the same age and residing in the same neighborhood, one of whom had experienced a pregnancy. Study subjects for the focus-group discussions were adolescent girls from the same population. The study focused on the following factors as possible explanations of the observed discordant outcomes: family structure, parental relationships, partner relationships, knowledge of pregnancy risk behaviors, self-esteem, and locus of control (internal versus external). The last three of these factors fall under the heading of what Kirby (1999) has termed "sexual psychosocial antecedents." Altho ugh our primary interest is in causal factors/antecedents of adolescent pregnancy, in many cases it is not possible to establish the direction of causality between factors and outcomes from the available data. For this reason, we use the term "correlates" instead of "antecedents."

Acquiring a better understanding of the correlates of pregnancy among Bolivian adolescents is important for several reasons. Bolivia, similar to many developing countries, has a very young population. Estimates from the 1998 Demographic and Health Survey indicate that 51% of the Bolivian population was 19 years of age or younger, including slightly over 10% between ages 15 and 19 (Republica de Bolivia, 1998). Most (63%) Bolivian females reach the secondary level of education, although by age twenty roughly 30% become pregnant (Republica de Bolivia, 1998). Recent estimates indicate a teen birth rate in Bolivia of 79 births per 1,000 females aged 15-19, well above the regional average (including North America) of 68 births (Republica de Bolivia, 1998; UNICEF, 1998). WHO/PAHO (1998) projections suggest that in the year 2000, 13% of all births in Bolivia will be to adolescents. Abortion in Bolivia is legal only if the health of the mother is in danger or in the case of rape, and thus voluntary termination of pre gnancies is not well documented and occurs under nonregulated conditions (Population Reference Bureau, 1994).


The target population for the study was females 13-19 years of age residing in a peri-urban area of La Paz--the First Health District, known as La Garita de Lima. The total population of this area is estimated to be 250,000. There are 14 primary health care centers in the First Health District, all of which were sites for data collection.

A combination of quantitative and qualitative methods was used in gathering data for the study.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Correlates of Adolescent Pregnancy in la Paz, Bolivia: Findings from a Quantitative-Qualitative Study


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?