Recent estimates indicate a teen birth rate in Bolivia of 79 births per 1,000 females ages 15-19, well above the regional average of 68 births. The present study was undertaken to investigate why some female adolescents in La Paz, Bolivia, become pregnant while others in seemingly identical circumstances are able to avoid early pregnancy.
The target population was females ages 13-19 residing in a peri-urban area of La Paz.* A nearest-neighbor, case-control design was used. Female adolescents were studied in pairs, matched by age and neighborhood, and in each case one of the pair had experienced a pregnancy. 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). Quantitative and qualitative methods were used to gather data, including structured questionnaires and focus group discussions with adolescents.