Scottish Longitudinal Study
Development & Support Unit

Current Projects

Project Title:

Regional patterns of teenage births in relation to social factors and educational and social outcomes for young women following a teenage birth

Project Number:



Gillian Raab (University of St Andrews)
Lin Hattersley (GROS)
Marion Henderson (MRC Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow)

Start Date:

Approved on 21-02-2007


There is considerable interest in factors affecting teenage conceptions and births and national data are presented and interpreted in detail for England and Wales by the Teenage Pregnancy Unit and in Scotland by ISD. These national data tell us relatively little about the characteristics of young women who experience these events, although some cohort studies have investigated this (e.g. Henderson et al, 2007). The SLS data are uniquely placed to investigate factors influencing teenage births by following the births from the 1991 census onwards. Very little is known about the influence of religious denomination on teenage births although it is known that religiosity is a major influence on sexual behaviour ( Henderson et al 2003; Studer and Thornton 1987). We will be able to address this by using the answers to the 2001census question on religion for those young women who were traced through the 1991 and 2001 censuses.

One of the aims of the current Teenage Pregnancy strategy for England and Wales is to “….help teenage parents into education, training or employment and to reduce their risk of social exclusion” (Wellings et al, 2005). This analysis will be able to address this question directly for young women in Scotland and inform policies to support young mothers.

Previous studies have used the LS to investigate factors affecting teenage pregnancy and births. In particular Rosato (1999) used data from young women present in the 1971 and 1981 censuses. We have submitted to the LS research board (update if decision arrived at) and will thus enable comparisons to be made with the SLS.

In addition to these substantive results this project will also allow us to investigate several issues relevant to data quality. We will be able to assess the completeness of the birth information held on the SLS by making comparisons with national rates and by comparing birth records with the presence of children living with mothers in 2001. In addition these data will inform the current debate about the presentation of teenage pregnancy rates which are currently calculated from different data sources in Scotland from the rest of the UK (J Chalmers, ISD, personal communication).

This study will have two main purposes:

  • To compare teenage birth rates in Scotland with those in England and Wales (by region). The comparisons will be for simple, age-specific, birth rates and also for birth rates adjusted for social factors and other determinants of pregnancy at these ages including religious affiliation.
  • To describe how educational, economic activity and living conditions of young women who have experienced a birth during their teenage years differ from those who have not done so. Results will be presented as simple summaries and modelled in relation to background variables.


M Henderson, D Wight, G M Raab, C Abraham, A Parkes, S Scott, G Hart (2007) Impact of a theoretically based sex education programme (SHARE) delivered by teachers on NHS registered conceptions and terminations: final results of cluster randomised trial, British Medical Journal.

Rosato M 1999, Teenage fertility in England and Wales: trends in socio-economic circumstances in England and Wales between the 1971 and 1981 censuses, LS working paper no 78.

Studer, M and A Thornton. 1987. "Adolescent religiosity and contraceptive usage." Journal of marriage and the family 49: 117 - 128.

Wellings K, Wilkinson P et al 2005, Teenage pregnancy startegy evaluation, Final Synthesis report, Department of Health, London available from Teenage Pregnancy Unit web site.

Related Outputs (viewable on CALLS Hub):

Explore the variables held in the SLS data dictionary.

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