Teen Pregnancy Rates Hit New Lows

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced in May 2016 that teen pregnancies were at an all-time low. The national rate has fallen to 25.4 pregnancies per 1,000 females ages 15-19, for the years 2013-2014.1 Just 20 years ago, the national teen pregnancy rate was more than 100 pregnancies per 1,000 females, ages 15-19.2

Teen Pregnancy Rates Vary by State
The range of states’ teen pregnancy rates for 2013-2014 is from 41.5 per 1,000 in Arkansas to 11.3 per 1,000 in Massachusetts. The five states with the highest teen pregnancy rates during this timeframe—Arkansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Mississippi and Texas—had rates about three times higher than the lowest states—Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New Jersey and Vermont.

Teen Pregnancies Falling in All States
The national teen pregnancy rate fell by more than a third—38.5 percent—between 2006-2007 and 2013-2014. Besides Arizona, the top five percentage declines were in Connecticut and Colorado, at 47.5 percent; Massachusetts, at 46.2 percent; and Maryland, at 45.3 percent. Another 14 states had declines of more than 40 percent for the time period.

Disparities in Teen Pregnancy Rates Narrow
Nationally, black and Hispanic females had teen pregnancy rates twice as high as white females during the 2013-2014 timeframe. However, the disparity is smaller than in earlier years as the decline in pregnancy is greater for black and Hispanic teens than for white teens. Nationally, pregnancy rates fell by 47.8 percent for Hispanic females 15-19 years old and 40.3 percent for black females 15-19 years old.

Why Does Teen Pregnancy Matter?
Teen pregnancy can have negative impacts on mothers and children. Pregnancy and births contribute to higher high school dropout rates among girls. The CDC reports that only 50 percent of teen mothers are awarded a high school diploma by the time they are 22 years old, compared to a 90 percent graduation rate for females who do not give birth as teens.Children with teen mothers may face a myriad of negative consequences. They are more likely to face problems in school, including dropping out. They are more likely to have health problems, be incarcerated at some time during adolescence, become a teenage mother and be unemployed as a young adult.4 

Teen pregnancy and teen births cost taxpayers.
In 2010, according to the CDC, costs totaled at least $9.4 billion for increased costs of health care, foster care and incarceration of the children of teen parents, as well as lost tax revenue from teen mothers who tend to have less educational attainment and lower income.5

Why Are Teen Pregnancy Rates Dropping?
Teenagers are becoming sexually active at a later age6 and more likely to be using effective contraception, according to the Pew Research Center.7 The percentage of never-married teenage females who report they have had sex fell from 51 percent in 1988 to 44 percent in 2011-2013.8 More than 85 percent of teens having sex report using some form of birth control.9 The use of highly-effective long-acting reversible contraception—intrauterine devices and hormone implants known as LARCs–has increased dramatically.10 The Pew Center concluded that increased access to science-based sex education in schools has played a major role in reducing teen pregnancy.11

Media, including two highly popular MTV reality television shows that portrayed the struggles of teen mothers, may have contributed up to one-third of the decline of teen births when they aired between 2009
and 2010 according to a 2014 Brookings Institution report.12

David Paton, an economist at Nottingham University Business School, has suggested that the increasing use of social media works as a form of birth control. Teens are spending more time remotely interacting
with their friends than engaged in sexual activity.13


1 Unless otherwise cited, all data is from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Romero, Lisa; Pazol, Karen; Warner, Lee; et al. Reduced Disparities in Birth Rates Among Teens Aged 15–19 Years — United States, 2006–2007 and 2013–2014. MMWR Morbidity Mortality Weekly Report 2016; 65:409–414. 
2 Kost, Kathryn, and Henshaw, Stanley. U.S. Teenage Pregnancies, Births and Abortions, 2010: National and State Trends by Age, Race and Ethnicity. Guttmacker Institute. May 2014. 
3 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About Teen Pregnancy. 
6 I
Patton, Eileen, and Livingston, Gretchen. Why is the Teen Birth Rate Falling? Pew Research Center. April 29, 2016.
8 Ibid.
Kost and Stanley. CDC.
10 Patton and Livingston. Pew Research Center.
11 Ibid.
12 Kearney, Melissa, and Levine, Phillip. Media Influences on Social Outcomes: The Impact of MTV’s 16 and Pregnant on Teen Childbearing. Brooking Institution. January 2014.
13 Bingham, John. How Teenage Pregnancy Collapsed after Birth of Social Media. The Telegraph. March 9, 2016. 

Teen Pregnancy Rates Hit New Lows