, Volume 40, Issue 4, pp 659–673

Trends in reproductive behavior among young single women in Colombia and Peru: 1985–1999


  • Mohamed M. Ali
    • Department of Reproductive Health and ResearchWorld Health Organization
  • John Cleland
    • Centre for Population StudiesLondon School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
  • Iqbal H. Shah
    • Department of Reproductive Health and ResearchWorld Health Organization

DOI: 10.1353/dem.2003.0031

Cite this article as:
Ali, M.M., Cleland, J. & Shah, I.H. Demography (2003) 40: 659. doi:10.1353/dem.2003.0031


Using “calendar” data for single women aged 15-24 from successive Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) conducted in Colombia and Peru during the 1990s, we document trends, year by year, in sexual activity, the use of contraceptives, and subsequent reproductive outcomes. We provide evidence of the important and hitherto largely untapped potential of DHS calendar data to draw complete sexual and reproductive profiles when data from various surveys are integrated. Over the period 1985–1999, young single women in both Colombia and Peru became sexually active at younger ages. The use of contraceptives, especially the use of condoms, increased but did not fully offset the rise in sexual activity, and thus the incidence of premarital conceptions rose among young single women. In both countries, sharp declines occurred in the proportion of premaritally conceived births that were reported as being wanted.

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© Population Association of America 2003