The Population Council initiated its work on adolescents in the mid-1990s. At that time, those advocating greater attention to adolescent issues were concerned about adolescent fertility—particularly outside of marriage—and adolescent “risk-taking” behavior. As an international scientific organization with its mandate centered around the needs of developing countries, the Council sought a more nuanced and context-specific understanding of the problems confronting adolescents in the developing world. In working with colleagues inside and outside the Council, it became clear that information on adolescents, and the way data are organized, were limiting the ability to understand the diversity of their experiences or to develop programs to address that diversity. In the absence of data, many adolescent policies were implicitly based on the premise that the lives of adolescents in developing countries were like those of adolescents in Western countries. In fact, significant numbers of young people in the West do not fit this description, and even larger groups within the developing countries. The Council created tables to more clearly describe the diversity of the adolescent experience by drawing on Malawi Demographic and Health Survey data. The tables, presented in this report, are intended to be used as a basis for developing programs.
"Facts about adolescents from the Demographic and Health Survey—Statistical tables for program planning: Malawi 1992." New York: Population Council, 2001.