Adolescent Fertility Rates

Melinda Marino

The visualization of data allows it to come alive and be presented in a clear and effective way. The use of charts and various graphical methods allows us to easier understand data and what it is trying to say about greater overarching themes. I chose to explore the health relationship between adolescent fertility rates and the average years of schooling for adults. I chose to analyze data from the International Human Development Indicators. I extracted the Adolescent Fertility Rates and Mean Years in school. I hypothesize that the less schooling the average person receives will inversely correlate to higher rates of adolescent fertility. I was unable to get sufficient data in earlier years so could only track it from the year 2000. Regardless, I utilized these findings to not only compare, but also track improvements and the relationships between adolescent fertility and the importance of education for development and prosperity.

I, first, created two distinct bar graphs to independently compare the differences in adolescent fertility and mean years of education for every country. The four sets of bars have distinct colors to illustrate the discrepancies in overall development between each. Visually, in the first graph it is easy to see not only the alarmingly high adolescent fertility rates in impoverished countries, but also, how quickly improvements are being made. In the more affluent countries which are classified as OECD, adolescent fertility rates are significantly lower.

High adolescent fertility in the least developed countries illustrates the lack of health awareness and overall education for these women and the community. Young mothers are more likely to have premature births and face health complications. The same type of results are, not surprisingly, illustrated by the bar graph representing education expectations in the least to most developed countries. In low-income countries, education is not accessible to everyone and it is not as strong as it is in developed OECD countries. Growth is limited and there is little chance for secondary education or a brighter future. This is one factor that explains why adolescents are impregnated at such alarmingly high rates. They are not focusing on their education or personal future through college, etc. Their focus is on starting a family and finding the support of a man. This also correlates to high maternal and infant mortality.

The Wordle I created artistically exemplifies the relationship between education and its importance for decreasing adolescent pregnancy. Setting goals, graduation and the attainment of higher education not only gives young girls and men something to strive for, but also increased health knowledge and economic opportunities. Through higher education, teenagers gain a sense of entitlement to do something great with their skills and women, especially, develop a need to support themselves through a successful career. Without this bright future, in many developing countries, women’s futures are bleak and monotonous. Without higher goals in mind, they have kids and a family at a younger age.

The scatter plot illustrates the relationship amongst the different data I have chosen to use. Very easily, it visually exemplifies the strong correlation between adolescent fertility rates and the education expectation. Unlike the bar graph, this scatter plot is important because it proves the interconnectedness of these two health indicators. The different color bubbles easily distinguish the different countries and make it easy to see how lower adolescent fertility is strongly correlated to higher expected years in school.

Health education not only allows for a greater understanding of safe sexual behavior, but in schools, it is also part of a program that keeps adolescents engaged in health behaviors and focused on a brighter future. In less developed countries, it is often expected that young girls will be quickly married and start having their own children. However, with education and the means to an improved future, child bearing is postponed and women are not forced into motherhood at such a young and vulnerable age.This is easy to see in developed OECD countries where the majority of women are given the prospect of a higher secondary education. Their redirected focus and personal goals have a positive influence on their health.


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