Source: Atlantic Cities Blog
Source: Atlantic Cities Blog

This map, posted by Richard Florida to the Atlantic Cities blog, shows state-by-state variations in the teen birth rate. Florida makes an unconvincing case that ties higher teen birth rates to the practice of religion, posture on birth control and red state governance, confusing correlation with causality. “Despite all the hectoring and moralizing,” he writes, “teen births are higher in red states and more religious states.”

Toward the end of his post, he does observe that, yes, there might also be a connection between teen birth rates and socio-economic status, and there might be a connection between teen birth rates and pockets of concentrated poverty. The culture of class is a key variable, as sociologist Charles Murray has demonstrated vividly. Florida is a brilliant guy in many ways, but it disheartens me to see him conduct such superficial analysis that tries to score cheap partisan points. Frankly, it casts a shadow over his good and valuable work.

On the other hand…. It’s good to see that Virginia has one of the lower teen birth rates in the country, a standing that I would attribute largely to the fact that it also has one of the lowest poverty rates in the country.


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10 responses to “IG of the Day: Teen Birth Rate”

  1. DJRippert Avatar

    It’s a hapless analysis. If you want to be a moralist then you need to look at the incidence of teen pregnancies rather than teen births. I’d suggest that the differences in teen birth rates might well be due to differences in the attitude toward abortion and the availability of abortion. Mississippi has done what many Republicans in Virginia hope to do – drastically reduce the number of abortion clinics. There is currently only one such clinic in the state of Mississippi.

    It would be far more useful to see rate of teen births alongside the rate of teen abortions.

    Finally, I must once again say that the aggregation of data at the state level is all but useless. Is Virginia really a homogeneous entity when it comes to religious attitudes? Does Southside Virginia have religious attitudes more like northern North Carolina or Northern Virginia?

    1. Quite right. Statewide measures are almost useless. Let’s take a look at the differences between regions… and differences within each region.

      It doesn’t take much imagination to suggest that the lowest rates of teen births are in Northern Virginia, while the highest rates will be found in inner cities and rural areas. What does that tell you? That education and socio-economic status are key drivers.

  2. Hamilton Lombard Avatar
    Hamilton Lombard

    Looking at the Virginia teen pregnancy rate by health district in Virginia: its obvious that teen pregnancy rates follow the general trend Jim outlined, rates are highest in the poorest rural areas and inner cities. Conservative suburban counties in Richmond have the same teen pregnancy rates as more liberal Fairfax County.

  3. larryg Avatar

    re: Va by health district, thanks.

    here’s a county breakdown for Texas.

    but what DJ is saying does not contradict Bacon or vice versa.

    it’s poor and undereducated but it’s also access to birth control and abortion which you have to admit is not the same between rich and poor.

    and what exactly justifies the denial of morning-after pills?

    every single child that is born that is not wanted will become the responsibility of others – taxpayers, teachers, medical professionals, criminal justice, etc.

    Young people are going to have sex but we cannot seem to bring ourselves to admit it in our policies so we basically make it hard to “undo” sex – as a misguided moralistic mindset that then sets in motion a de facto welfare state.

  4. larryg Avatar

    every young woman that is sexually active – should not only have access to the morning after pill – she should have it provided anytime she wants to have it.

    I’m close to saying that anything less than that is self-induced societal pain that effectively results in a permanent entitlement-dependent underclass. No excuses, this is what our policies do.

    tell me why I’ve gone too far in making this statement.

  5. Hamilton Lombard Avatar
    Hamilton Lombard

    Comparing the Virginia teen pregnancy rates with access to abortion clinics: it doesn’t appear that proximity to abortion clinics necessarily lowers teen pregnancy rates much more than the area’s political leanings might.

    The health districts with some of the largest teen pregnancy rates also have a number of abortion providers, Planned Parenthood is particularly effective in locating its facilities. Other health districts without major abortion providers such as Central Shenandoah or Loudoun County still have low teen pregnancy rates.

  6. larryg Avatar

    these are large differences .. between regions…

    what would be illuminating is a map that shows abortion rates vs teen pregnancies …. perhaps with income levels shown. Are the health districts tracking ALL abortions and pregnancies? Where do they get this data?

    but I still wonder what effect would result if the morning after pill was freely and easily available – everywhere.

    abortions and pregnancies are downstream consequences that result – after the fact – and after no morning after pill was available.

    this almost seems like a created problem of our own choosing..

  7. CoastalBendTxParentsCare Avatar

    It’s all about money. It’s all about abortion. It’s all about politics. It’s has nothing to do with stopping teen pregnancies.

    Speaking of teen births and not addressing the cause – teen pregnancies – is so deceptive. Let’s remember who profits from stopping a teen from giving birth – Planned Parenthood and their allies. Let’s remember who profits from teen sexual promiscuity – 40% of Planned Parenthood’s clients are teens. Let’s remember who manufactured the non-existent “War on Women” – Planned Parenthood.

    $542 million in tax funding, plus a gigantic windfall with the HHS mandate will purchase a lot of political advertisements for the most liberal politicians.

    Teen births aren’t the problem. The promotion of teen promiscuity is the problem – just check out their web-sites for teens and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Planned Parenthood has a vested interest in teen promiscuity. If teens aren’t having sex, they aren’t making money off of them.

    Watch out for the National Sexuality Health Standards by Planned Parenthood and friends. You think teen births are high now, just wait until Planned Parenthood-styled sex ed is in every school. You could have Planned Parenthood in walking distance of every school and teen pregnancies would increase.

    By design, the goal of the National Sexuality Health Standards is to make liberal advocates out of our children by getting them hooked on sex and Planned Parenthood’s products and services. The success of the bogus War on Women was nothing compared to what is ahead if we walk away from our moral beliefs and hand our children over to the abortion industry and their allies.

    If you want to stop teen births, you have to stop teen pregnancy. The only 100% effective way to stop teen pregnancy is to empower students to remain abstinent until marriage. It’s not hard, this is what teens want naturally. It’s written on their hearts. Responsible adults must stand in the balance and protect our children from the abortion industry that has them locked in the cross-hairs.

  8. reed fawell III Avatar
    reed fawell III

    CoastalBendTxParentsCare –

    Thank you for your straight talk on this subject. It’s a huge breath of fresh air.

  9. larryg Avatar

    how do we “empower” teens to not have sex, especially the ones that are poor and undereducated?

    and on the other end of the spectrum – if morning after pills were freely available – wouldn’t that put a pretty good hitch in Planned Parenthood’s giddyup?

    finally, what do you do with “empowered” teens that still have sex and get pregnant?

    what are the realistic solutions here beyond one’s moralistic beliefs?

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