Adolescent childbearing and women's attitudes towards wife beating in 25 sub-Saharan African countries

Michelle J. Hindin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Preventing unwanted adolescent pregnancy is key for keeping girls in school, leading to a more productive and healthier workforce in sub-Saharan Africa. Gender norms are an important indicator of the status of women and more conservative gender norms are associated with experiencing domestic violence, and poorer maternal and reproductive health care. This paper examines the association between adolescent childbearing and norms towards wife beating in sub-Saharan Africa, and the role of education in moderating this association. Data come from the most recent Demographic and Health Surveys-nationally representative cross-sectional surveys conducted every 5 years. Country-by-country multivariable logistic regressions were conducted in 25 countries, and country and regional estimates were obtained using meta-analytical techniques. More than half of sub-Saharan African adolescents have a child, with levels ranging from 23 % in Rwanda to 69 % in Niger. Between 12 and 87 % of women believed wife beating is acceptable. In 20 of the 25 countries, women with a birth during adolescence were significantly more likely to believe wife beating is justified [OR = 1.39; 95 % confidence interval (CI) 130-1.39]. After multivariate adjustment, the overall finding remains statistically significant [AOR = 1.09; 95 % CI 105-1:13]. Education attenuates the observed association. Overall, the effects are strongest and most consistent in West Africa. Results suggest that women who have an adolescent birth more likely to hold more conservative attitudes. Working with adolescents to improve their attitudes on relationship expectations and the importance of furthering their education even after a pregnancy could be integrated into life skills and sexual education curricula.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1488-1495
Number of pages8
JournalMaternal and child health journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 2014


  • Adolescent
  • Gender norms
  • Pregnancy
  • Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Wife beating

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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