Teen Pregnancy Rate Has Fallen by More Than Half

Why? More contraception and less sex


16 and Pregnant

The pregnancy rate among American women aged 15 through 19 has fallen by more than half from its peak of 61.8 births per 1,000 teen women in the 1990s to 24.2 in 2014. Still nearly 250,000 babies were born to women in this age group. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes, "This is another historic low, and a drop of 9% from 2013. Birth rates fell 11% for women aged 15–17 years, and 7% for women aged 18–19 years."

Although births among Hispanic and black teens have dropped by almost half since 2006, the CDC reports that black and Hispanic teens are still about twice as likely to become pregnant than are white teen women. These ethnic differences in pregancy rates are associated with higher rates of youth unemployment and lower educational achievement often found in minority communities. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unwanted Pregnancy calculates that teen childbearing in the United States cost taxpayers (federal, state, and local) at least $9.4 billion annually.

Why are teen women having fewer babies? First, more teens appear to be taking advantage of effective contraceptive methods. Second, they also are having less sex than earlier generations did. In an earlier report on adolescent sex the CDC noted that since 1988 the rate of teen sexual activity had fallen by 22 percent for teen males and 14 percent for teen females. Interestingly, a 2014 study found that births to teens dropped by nearly 6 percent 18 months after the preimiere of the MTV reality show, 16 and Pregnant.