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Uncovering the Mystery of Fewer Teenage Births
- Updated: August 20, 2014
There has always been teenagers giving birth but in 1991, numbers peaked. However, according to a recently published report, there was a 57% reduction in teenage births in 2013, which is great news yet the reason remains a mystery. As part of this report, data revealed that from 2007 to 2013, birth rate for teens between ages 15 and 19 dropped to 26.6 births for every 1,000 girls.
This report also provided valuable insight from a demographic perspective. For instance, the greatest overall decline was seen in the South whereas the lowest decline was in the North. In fairness, the South continues to have the highest teen birth rates in the country, especially states like Alabama, Texas, and Mississippi while Northern states to include New Hampshire have the lowest.
Another notable change in trends identified was a decrease in percentage of teen births to girls between 10 and 14 years of age. Obviously, the younger a mother is the greater health risk for both she and the newborn baby. For instance, there is risk for young teenage girls of having low birth rate babies or giving birth prematurely. With that there are secondary problems to include respiratory problems associated with poorly developed lungs, developmental delays, and more.
Experts believe one reason for this recent decline in teen births has to do with better public education and official intervention. From the mid-1980s to the early 1990s, government officials on local, state, and federal levels pulled together to devise a plan whereby teenagers would be influenced to make better choices associated with sexual activity. The result was more teens choosing to use some type of contraception for a first sexual encounter and experienced teens using dual methods of birth control.
An excellent report was published by Melissa S. Kearney from the University of Maryland, The Brookings Institute, and NBER, coupled with Phillip B. Levine from Wellesley College and NBER. In their report, specific details about the decline in teen births are outlined. The two strongly support other study findings but also add new data to the mix.
Overall, researchers feel the recent economic downturn might also play a role in the reduction of teen births. Today, young people are more aware of the financial consequences of having children, thanks to education but also television shows like Teen Mom. While no one can predict the future, anticipation is high that this trend will continue for years to come.