Premarital childbearing (PC) among young women remains a problem in Africa. Victims are often stigmatized, neglected and their socio-economic advancement in life is compromised. There is dearth of information on patterns of PC among unmarried female youths (UFY) in sub-Saharan Africa. The objectives of the study are to explore the patterns and differentials in the levels of PC in sub-Saharan Africa. It also identifies the factors that might account for high cases of PC in the region. The study used DHS dataset for Nigeria, Senegal, Rwanda, Malawi, Congo DR and Namibia. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were used to examine association between the socioeconomic factors and PC among UFY (15 to 24 years). The prevalence of PC was found to be highest in Namibia (25.5%) and least in Nigeria (4.8%). PC was more prominent among women with no formal education in Namibia (54.4%), Rwanda (16.5%) and Congo DR (7.9%). In Malawi, 4.5 and 78.0% of UFY had their first birth at ages 10 to 14 and 15 to 19 years respectively. Residing in urban areas in Nigeria (OR=0.37; CI=0.28 to 0.50) and Congo DR (OR=0.66; CI=0.45 to 0.98) reduces the risk of PC. The odd of PC reduces as the level of wealth quintile increases in Nigeria, Rwanda and Namibia. The identified determinants of PC included never use of contraceptive, Christianity, Islam and early sexual initiation. The study thus revealed premarital childbearing is still a problem in sub-Saharan Africa and the hardest hit country is Namibia and women with no formal education. Strategies aimed at reducing PC among UFY in this region should include improvement in female education.
Key words: Premarital childbearing, unmarried female youths, premarital sex.
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