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The Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality (YAFS) Study is a series of cross-sectional surveys on the Filipino youth aged 15-24 conducted since 1982 by the University of the Philippines Population Institute (UPPI) and the Demographic Research and Development Foundation (DRDF). YAFS is the only survey of young people that is representative at the national and regional level. Among the main goals of the study is to provide updated information on a broad range of sexuality and reproductive health issues that can be used as basis for developing new interventions and improving current programs that aim to safeguard the health and welfare of the youth.

Recommended citation:
Demographic Research and Development Foundation (DRDF) and University of the Philippines Population Institute (UPPI). 2014. 2013 YAFS4 Key Findings. Quezon City: DRDF and UPPI.

  1. Profile of the Filipino Youth
    1. Demography of the Filipino youth
    2. Socio-economic characteristics
      1. Main activity
      2. Marital status
  2. Health and Lifestyle
    1. Self-assessed health
    2. Physical exercise
    3. Food consumption
  3. Use of information technology
    1. Cellular phone
    2. Internet and social media
  4. Nonsexual Risk Behaviors
    1. Smoking
    2. Drinking
    3. Drug use
  5. Sexual Behavior
    1. Early sexual initiation
    2. Other sexual behaviors

2013 YAFS Key Findings


Demography of the Filipino youth

In the 2010 Philippine census, there were 18,045,895 aged 15-24 comprising 19.6% of the total population.


The youth cohort has grown consistently over the past five decades in keeping with the overall growth of the Philippine population. Despite the growth in absolute numbers, the share of the youth population to the total population has remained more or less stable at 20 per cent between 1960 and 2010.

Census data from 1960-2010 show the size of the young adult population as steadily increasing, but the rate of increase has been decelerating.

Socio-economic characteristics

The 2013 YAFS data show a higher proportion of the youth in the younger cohort of 15-19 (60%) than the older cohort 20-24 (40%). There is also a higher proportion of females (51%) than males (49%).


Main activity

As to their main activity three months prior until the time of the survey, 36.3 per cent reported that they were in school while 25.3 per cent were currently working. About 20 per cent, predominantly female, were doing housework. There is a minority of 8.8 per cent who were idle, that is neither studying, working, looking for work, doing housework nor doing unpaid family work. Again, regional variations in the main activity profile are noted. ARMM has the highest proportion with idle youth (23%), followed by Eastern Visayas (12%). The regions with the lowest proportion of idle youth are CAR (1%) and Bicol (2%).

Marital status

The past three rounds of YAFS reveal that the profile of the Filipino youth by marital status has dramatically changed, especially during the last decade. The proportion of never married Filipino youth declined from 84 per cent in 2002 to 77 per cent in 2013 and the formally married also declined from 9.8 per cent in 2002 to 8.5 per cent in 2013. On the other hand, the youth in a live-in relationship increased from 5.9 per cent in 2002 to 13.8 per cent in 2013. About 1.1 per cent of the youth in 2013 were separated, widowed or divorced, which is up from the 0.5 per cent recorded in 2002.

Among the youth who have ever been in a marital union in 2013, there is a larger proportion living-in than formally married. This general pattern is more pronounced among the younger (7% vs. 2%) than the older cohort (24% vs. 18%), among males (8% vs.4%) than females (20% vs. 13%), among those with lower education (13% vs. 7%) than those with higher education (15% vs. 10%). NCR (20%) and Eastern Visayas (19%) are the top two regions with the largest proportion of youth in a live-in arrangement while ARMM (1%) and SOCCSKSARGEN (7%) have the lowest.


A new feature of the 2013 YAFS round is a block of questions on health and lifestyle of Filipino young adults. In this section key findings on self-assessed health status, self-reported height and weight, average hours of sleep, exercise, consumption of selected food and drinks and common leisure activities are presented.

Self-assessed health

The period of youth is one of the healthiest in one’s life where age-specific mortality rate is normally much lower compared to other age groups. Asked to assess the state of their health, a high 92.3 per cent reported themselves to be either very healthy, of above average or of average health. The percentage is slightly lower among females (91%) than males (94%). On the other hand, 7.6 per cent assessed themselves to be in poor health (somewhat or very unhealthy). The proportion with poor self-assessed health decreases as educational attainment increases, at 9 per cent among those with elementary/no schooling, decreasing monotonically to 5.4 per cent among the college educated. Across the regions, the proportions with poor self-assessed health are highest in Northern Mindanao, Davao Region and Caraga, all at above 10 per cent. It is lowest in CAR (4%) and SOCCSKSARGEN (5%).

Physical exercise

Overall, the proportion who did physical exercise at least two times a week is 46.4 per cent, much more among males (59%) than females (34%), but there is no clear age or education pattern. On the other hand, about 3 in 10 said they never exercised physically, with a clear age and gender difference. Higher proportions of females and the older cohort never exercised. Also, more among those with elementary/no schooling never exercised than those with higher education, especially the college educated. Across regions, the proportion who never exercised were highest in ARMM (49%) and lowest in Central Visayas (19%).

Food consumption

One important component of a healthy lifestyle is the type of food that is normally consumed. In the survey, we asked about the frequency of consumption of selected food and drinks that may contribute to adverse health outcomes if consumed frequently and over the long term. These are food and drinks that are high in sugar, salt or fat content. Some are considered to consist of “empty calories” as they have little nutritive value. They also contribute to increasing the risk of lifestyle diseases like diabetes and hypertension.


Of the list of food items, the most frequently consumed are chips, instant noodles, fried and grilled street foods, desserts and fried chicken, in that order, consumed at least twice a week. About 15 per cent eat chips practically every day (5 to 7 times a week). Of the three drinks, the most commonly consumed is carbonated drinks, with 39 per cent drinking soft drinks at least twice a week, 15 per cent almost every day.

Slightly more females eat chips, fries and desserts frequently than males but slightly more males frequently eat instant noodles, fried and grilled street food. As for drinks, more males frequently consume carbonated (soft drinks), sweet bottled and energy drinks than do females. The drink consumption pattern does not differ much by age. The pattern by education suggests that ability to pay may have some influence on the frequency of consumption of the food and drinks in the list. With the exception of instant noodles and carbonated drinks, the proportion who consumed the food and drinks on the list tend to increase as education level rises.


Cellular phone

Overall, 78 per cent of the youth owned a cellular phone, slightly more among females (81%) than males (76%), the older (83%) than the younger (76%) cohort. Cell phone ownership increases consistently as education level rises, from 51.3 per cent among those with elementary level schooling to 94.7 per cent among the college educated. The proportions of youth who own a cellphone are highest in CALABARZON and Ilocos (87%), Central Luzon (86%) and NCR (85%) and lowest in ARMM at 52.4 per cent.


Aside from communication, cell phones have also become the means to meet new friends and form new relationships, some not requiring face-to-face contact. Among all youth who own a cell phone, 43.6 per cent reported having text mates whom they have not met personally. This practice is more common among males (54%) than females (34%) and among the younger (48%) than the older cohort (37%). There is a reverse education gradient in this practice, such that the proportion decreases as education level rises. The prevalence of the practice is highest in Eastern Visayas (54%), CARAGA and SOCCSKSARGEN (52%) and lowest in CAR (31%), NCR (36%) and ARMM (37%).

Internet and social media

In general, 58.9 per cent of today’s youth use the internet, somewhat more among females (61%) than males (57%), the younger (60%) than the older (57%) cohort. Expectedly, there is a distinct education gradient in internet use, from almost universal use (91%) among the college educated to a low 20.5 per cent among those with elementary education.

The regional profile of internet use shows a picture of two regions at extreme ends and the rest of the regions within a narrow range in between. In the NCR, 92.3 per cent use the internet. In contrast, only 22.4 per cent use the internet in ARMM. The rest of the regions falls between 40 per cent to below 70 per cent prevalence of internet use.

Among internet users, 80.3 per cent reported using the internet for social networking. Again females have a somewhat higher prevalence (84%) than males (76%). The difference by education is not so pronounced.


The regions with the highest prevalence of social networking among internet users are NCR (88%), Central Luzon, Ilocos and CALABARZON, all at 84 per cent. The prevalence is lowest in ARMM (61%), SOCCSKSARGEN, CAR and Northern Mindanao, all between 65 per cent to slightly below 70 per cent.

Similar to the cellular phone, the internet also provides a means to establish relationships without face-to-face contact, referred to as online or virtual friends. Among internet users, more than half (52%) have online or virtual friends, i.e. friends they have not met personally. The pattern of difference by age and sex is the same as that for text mates in that more males (58% vs 47%) and the younger cohort (54% vs 50%) have virtual friends. There is no discernible difference by education level. In terms of regional differences, this kind of relationship is more common among young people from Central Luzon, Davao, NCR, ARMM, where proportions are over 50 per cent.


The YAFS series has traditionally tracked the nonsexual risk behaviors of smoking, drinking and use of drugs. Suicidal ideation and attempt was added in the 2002 round. In the 2013 YAFS, the experience of physical violence was included.

In 2013, the proportion currently drinking declined to the same level as 1994, the proportion currently smoking continued its trajectory of slow decline begun in 1994, while the proportion who ever used drugs in 2013 declined to a level below the 1994 prevalence. In general, the prevalence of the three traditional non-sexual risk behaviors tracked by the YAFS series declined in the past ten years, albeit by a small increment.


Among all youth, 38.8 per cent have ever smoked, significantly more among males (56%) than females (22%). However, only 19.7 per cent of all youth are currently smoking, with a notable gender disparity; only 4.7 per cent of females are currently smoking but the corresponding prevalence among males is 35.4 per cent. The proportion currently smoking is higher in the older (26%) than the younger (16%) cohort. Current smoking is most prevalent among youth with elementary level schooling (32%); it is lowest among the college educated (13%). The prevalence of smoking is highest in NCR (27%) and Central Luzon (25%) and lowest in ARMM (12%) and SOCCSKSARGEN (13%).

On the average, males started to smoke earlier (mean age of 15.7 years) than females (mean age of 16.3 years). Across the regions, the mean age of starting to smoke regularly falls within a narrow range from 15.5 years (SOCCSKSARGEN) to 16.4 years (Eastern Visayas).


More youth drink than smoke. In all, 68 per cent have ever drank alcohol while 36.7 per cent currently drink. As with smoking, drinking is a male-dominated behavior; while 53.2 per cent of males currently drink, the corresponding proportion for females is only 21 per cent. Drinking is more prevalent in the older (46%) than the younger (30%) cohort. By education, the college educated have the highest prevalence of current drinking (43%), the lowest is among high school undergraduates (29%), majority of whom belong to the younger cohort and are still in school. Across the regions, the prevalence of current drinking is highest in the NCR (56%), Central Visayas (43%) and Eastern Visayas (43%) and almost nonexistent in ARMM (2%).

Drug use

Drug use is less common compared to smoking and drinking with only 4 per cent reporting ever use of drugs. Differences by age and gender are in the same direction as smoking and drinking. While 7.1 per cent of males ever used drugs, the corresponding prevalence for females is only 0.8 per cent. The mean age at which drug use was initiated is 17.3 years, same for males and females.


Early sexual initiation

Among the sexual behaviors tracked by the YAFS series is early sexual initiation, defined as beginning sexual activity before age 18. Sexual initiation signals the start of the exposure to the risk of reproduction and childbearing as well of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The results of the three YAFS rounds indicate an increasing proportion of youth who have begun sexual activity before age 18, from 13 per cent in 1994 to 23 per cent in 2013 for both males and females. Among males, this proportion increased from 13.8 per cent in 1994 to 25.1 per cent in 2013 while for females the increase was from 12 per cent in 1994 to 22 per cent two decades later.

The proportion who had their sexual initiation before age 18 is highest among those with elementary schooling (30%) and decreases as education increases. The proportion who had early sexual initiation among those with college education is 16.9 per cent. Among the regions, the proportion of youth with early sexual initiation is highest in NCR at 30.6 per cent and lowest in ARMM at 15.6 percent.

Other sexual behaviors

The YAFS4 survey elicited information on a number of other sexual activities, which if unprotected, could pose a high risk for unplanned pregnancy and STIs including HIV. These are commercial sex (paying for sex and being paid in exchange for sex), casual sex, having a non-romantic regular sexual relationship and extramarital sex.

Overall, there is a low prevalence of these other sexual activities. There is also a notable gender difference in each, with more males reporting engaging in these activities, compared to females. For example, about 3 per cent of males reported having paid for or received payment for sex; the comparable figure for females is much less than 1 per cent. For casual sex, 9.4 per cent of males have engaged in this activity compared with only 0.7 per cent for females. Casual sex refers to sexual activities outside the context of a romantic relationship, with no payment involved, and which happened only once or twice (e.g., one-night stand). For extramarital sex, defined as engaging in sexual intercourse with someone other than one’s spouse or live-in partner while still married or cohabiting, the prevalence in males is much higher at 10.1 per cent than the females’, 0.6 per cent.

The prevalence of these sexual activities may be on the low side but it is still a cause for concern as most young people engage in these activities without protection against the risk of unintended pregnancy and contracting STIs. For example, among the youth who have ever paid for sex, only 27.3 per cent reported use of a condom every time they paid for sex in the past 12 months before the survey. Of those with casual sex experience, only 18 per cent used a condom the last time they had casual sex.