Teen pregnancy demographics often focus on the United States as the total number of teen pregnancies annually often leads the world. Strategies that include more education about abstinence and contraception have been implemented, which has helped to reduce US figures.
Birth rates have fallen 13% for women between the ages of 15-17 in 2013.
Why does the US continue to lead western industrialized nations in this category? Although teens are less sexually active and using more birth control than before, the record low birth rates are still remarkably high compared to similar nations.
There Are Disparities In The Teen Pregnancy Demographics
- Hispanic teen pregnancy rates in the US are 2x higher that Caucasian teen pregnancy rates.
- African-American teens saw an 11% total drop in pregnancy rates, yet also have a 2x higher teen pregnancy rate when compared to their Caucasian counterparts.
- American Indian/Alaska Native teen birth rates are more than 1.5x higher than the white teen birth rate.
- African-American and Hispanic teens comprised 57% of U.S. teen births in 2013.
- In 1991, the U.S. teen birth rate was 61.8 births for every 1,000 adolescent females, compared with 26.5 births for every 1,000 adolescent females in 2013.
- 1 out of every 10 girls who had sex for the first time before the age of 15 say that they were coerced into having sex, meaning unwanted sex is leading to unwanted pregnancies.
It is clear that the same poverty risks that continue to keep minority populations at a socioeconomic disadvantage are also contributing to higher teen pregnancy rates in certain racial demographics in the US. The good news is that all demographics have seen reductions in teen pregnancies. The declines are encouraging and have brought the US to record lows for young mothers, yet a record low in the US is still very high compared to the rest of the world. More must be done.
How Prevention Could Change Everything
- More than $9 billion is spent every year for healthcare and foster care for children who are born to teens.
- Only about 50% of teen mothers receive a high school diploma by 22 years of age. Girls that don’t have a child as a teen have a graduation rate of 90%.
- Children born to teen mothers have significantly higher risks when compared to their peers of being incarcerated at some point in their lives, having lower school achievement, higher drop out rates, unemployment, and becoming a teenage parent themselves.
- 17% of the births in the 15-19 year old age group are to girls who have already had at least one child already.
- 73% of all births in 2013 occurred in the 18-19 age demographic.
Current estimates show that about 1 in 10 American girls will have their first child before they reach the age of 20. Teen pregnancy rates have been cut by about 67% over the last 20+ years, but it is clear that more can be done. Girls are having children just as they are entering their final year of high school or their first year of college and this is clearly limiting their early life opportunities. Multiple studies have note that the US provides inconsistent and potentially inaccurate sexual health education opportunities to teens and this is often listed as a contributing factor to the high pregnancy rates.
Geographical Location Plays a Role
- The highest rates of teenage pregnancy in the US occur in the same southern states that have the strongest religious influences on society.
- Switzerland has a teenage pregnancy rate of just 8 per 1,000 teenage girls, which would require another 67% cut in the US rates to match.
- Slovenia, Singapore, and the Netherlands have a teenage pregnancy rate of 14 per 1,000 teenage girls.
- Just 7 countries account for half of all teen births: Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Brazil, DRC, and the US.
About 16 million women in the 15-19 age demographic will give birth every year. 11% of all births around the world will come from this age demographic, which matches the US statistics in the area exactly. The difference is that 95% of all births in this age demographic occur in low or middle income nations. A majority of the remaining 5% comes from the US. The decreases in teen pregnancy rates is encouraging, but we must understand the contexts that teens face today to continue encouraging a further decrease in these figures.