Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Teen Pregnancy Rates Drop in the US

All across the country:
The number of teen births in the U.S. dropped again in 2010, according to a government report, with nearly every state seeing a decrease. Nationally, the rate fell 9 percent to about 34 per 1,000 girls ages 15 through 19, and the drop was seen among all racial and ethnic groups. Mississippi continues to have the highest teen birth rate, with 55 births per 1,000 girls. New Hampshire has the lowest rate at just under 16 births per 1,000 girls.
This is the lowest national rate for teen births since the Centers for Disease Control began tracking it in 1940, and CDC officials attributed the decline to pregnancy prevention efforts. Other reports show that teenagers are having less sex and using contraception more often. Studies have backed this up. Researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle found that teenagers who received some type of comprehensive sex education were 60 percent less likely to get pregnant or get someone else pregnant. And in 2007, a federal report showed that abstinence-only programs had “no impacts on rates of sexual abstinence.”

It's difficult to tease out the main reason for the drop. In addition to less sex and more contraception, recession may have played a role in the decline or may have been the reason why more teens would abstain from sex or be more careful with prevention of pregnancies.

That's about the recent decline in teen pregnancy rates. But those rates still show large differences by US states, as described above, and also large differences between ethnic and/or racial groups:
The teen birth rate dropped across all racial and ethnic groups but still varies widely by race; Hispanics have the highest teenage birth rates at 55.7 births per 1,000 teens in the age group, followed by black teens at 51.5 per 1,000. Asian teens have the lowest teenage birth rate with 10.9 per 1,000
The US overall rate, of 34 births per 1,000 girls aged 15-19 is quite a bit higher than the corresponding rates in Germany (9.8), France (10.2), Sweden (5.9) or the Netherlands (5.3), and is higher than the rate in the Russian Federation (30.2)

The international statistics (Table 10 here) suggest a rough inverse correlation between the income of a country and the rate of teenage pregnancies in general, and that seems to be supported by the US data, too. Mississippi is the second poorest state in terms of per capita GDP, for example.