A new report published today by the Guttmacher Institute, accompanied by fact sheets in English, Spanish and French, provides estimates of the cost of adolescent contraceptive use in developing regions through 2030, and of its impact on unintended pregnancy. Future Scenarios of Adolescent Contraceptive Use, Cost and Impact in Developing Regions offers the most comprehensive estimates on this topic to date, based on projections of future adolescent contraceptive use and accounting for variations in population growth and service costs across regions. The findings are intended to help inform investments and national budgets, and to promote advocacy efforts to establish policies and programs that meet adolescents’ needs.
Currently about half of all pregnancies among adolescents aged 15–19 in developing regions are unintended, and more than half of these unintended pregnancies result in abortions, many of which are unsafe. It is crucial to meet adolescents’ needs for contraceptive care in order to reduce unintended pregnancy and meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
Nine in 10 adolescent women using modern contraceptives in 2017 were relying on short-acting methods, such as condoms, pills and injectables. The study finds that if the relative proportion of adolescent women using each type of modern method were to remain the same over time, the annual cost of contraceptive services for this group—based on projections of the most likely level of contraceptive use reached—would be US$310 million by 2030. An increase in the use of long-acting, reversible methods (IUDs and implants) would mean lower costs: If 20% of adolescents using short-acting methods were to shift to long-acting, reversible methods, the annual cost would be $275 million by 2030. The study also examines the projected costs of adolescent women’s contraceptive use if it were to grow faster than expected, as well as the projected number of unintended pregnancies averted under each scenario.
These estimates make a definitive case for investing now in contraceptive services for adolescents. Foreseeing demands for contraceptive services can help decision makers anticipate budgetary needs—and, more importantly, can help ensure that adolescents have access to a wide range of contraceptive methods and are able to make their own informed decisions about whether and when to have children.
This report was made possible by UK Aid from the UK Government and support from The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation. Its findings and conclusions are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of the donors.