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A Multilevel Analysis of Risk and Protective Factors for Adolescent Childbearing in Malawi

Chintsanya, Jesman; Magadi, Monica; Likupe, Gloria


Jesman Chintsanya

Monica Magadi

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Dr Gloria Likupe
Lecturer and Researcher in Healthcare/ Chairperson of School Athena Swan group


Although teenage pregnancy and childbearing has declined throughout sub-Saharan Africa,
the recent increase in teenage pregnancy in countries such as Malawi has prompted interest from
social researchers. Using Malawi Demographic and Health Survey (MDHS) data from 2004 to 2015,
this study employs multilevel logistic regression to examine the magnitude of change over time
in risk and protective factors for teenage childbearing. During this period, teenage childbearing
declined from 36.1% (C.I.: 31.5–36.7) in 2004 to 25.6% (C.I.: 24.0–27.3) in 2010 before increasing to
29.0% (C.I.: 27.4–30.7) in 2015. Age and being married (compared to never married) were consistently
significantly associated with increased odds of teenage childbearing. However, delaying sexual debut,
attaining secondary education, belonging to the richest quintile and rural residence offered protective
effects against early motherhood, while Muslim affiliation (compared to Christian denominations)
was associated with increased likelihood of teenage childbearing among adolescents. Teenage
childbearing remains high in the country, largely influenced by adolescents’ early sexual debut and
child marriage—risk factors that have hardly changed over time. While individual socioeconomic
predictors are useful in explaining the apparent high risk of adolescent fertility among specific
subgroups in Malawi, sustained declines in teenage childbearing were not evident at district level.


Chintsanya, J., Magadi, M., & Likupe, G. (2021). A Multilevel Analysis of Risk and Protective Factors for Adolescent Childbearing in Malawi. Social Sciences, 10(8), Article 303.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 5, 2021
Online Publication Date Aug 12, 2021
Publication Date 2021-08
Deposit Date Aug 12, 2021
Publicly Available Date Oct 27, 2022
Journal Social Sciences
Print ISSN 2076-0760
Publisher MDPI
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 10
Issue 8
Article Number 303
Keywords Teenage childbearing; Adolescent; Sexual reproductive health; Multilevel modelling; Malawi
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Copyright Statement
Copyright: © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (

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