Map of the Day: Decline in Teen Birth Rate

Source: StatChat blog
Source: StatChat blog

The fertility rate for U.S. women reached an all-time low in 2015. All told, there have been 3.4 million fewer births since 2007 than would have occurred had fertility rates not declined, writes Hamilton Lombard in the StatChat blog.

There are reasons to be concerned. Fewer births means fewer Americans entering the workforce, fewer workers paying into Medicare and Social Security, and fewer taxpayers to support the swelling national debt, which now stands at $19 trillion and counting.

But Lombard finds a silver lining. A big one. The decline in births is concentrated among teens. That decline, he argues, is tied to the increase in the high school graduation rates and college attendance as teens put off starting families until they have earned a high school and/or college degree.

Teenage pregnancy was once fairly common and even socially acceptable, particularly after World War II, when there were plenty of well-paying jobs available that did not require a high school diploma, much less a college degree. As these low-skill jobs began to disappear, the teenage birth rate started to fall. By the mid-2000s the U.S. teen birth rate had declined by 50 percent since 1960.

Insofar as inter-generational poverty in America is demographic in nature — poor teens giving birth to children and raising them in poverty before acquiring skills needed to rise out of poverty — declining fertility is a very good thing.

The national trends do not play out evenly. As can be seen in Lombard’s map above, the change was dramatic in some Virginia jurisdictions between 20007 and 2014 and far less noticeable in others.

In the City of Richmond, the birth of children to teens fell from 470 to 149 over that period — an astonishing decline. The overwhelming number of those 331 never-born children would have been raised in poverty and at high risk of never rising out of it. By contrast, the decline was far more modest in rural localities of Southwest Virginia.

Here is the decline in teen births between 2007 and 2011 in Virginia broken down by race, according to Centers for Disease Control data:

All races — 28% decline
Non-Hispanic whites — 20%
Non-Hispanic blacks — 29%
Hispanics — 50%

And here is the 2011 birth rate per 1,000 teenagers aged 15-19:

All Races — 24.5 births
Non-Hispanic whites — 19.4
Non-Hispanic blacks — 37.4
Hispanics — 36.9


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3 responses to “Map of the Day: Decline in Teen Birth Rate”

  1. LarrytheG Avatar

    ” Fewer births means fewer Americans entering the workforce, fewer workers paying into Medicare and Social Security, and fewer taxpayers to support the swelling national debt, which now stands at $19 trillion and counting.”

    Actually there ARE workers not born here who ARE paying for SS and Medicare that they may never receive as well as paying other taxes both income and sales – at all levels while not eligible for the earned income credit nor subsidies for Obamacare so there is a real probability that they may well be paying more in taxes compared to benefits received as compared to American-born low-income entitlement recipients.

    On the lower birthrate itself – – since it seems concentrated in teens – the real question is why – and is it the result of govt and non-govt entities programs targeted to reducing teen pregnancies ?

    That would be a welcome change to BR – to actually give credit to those programs that actually do work – and especially so if they are the result of that terrible command and control, top-down nanny state govt that is imposed on liberty-loving citizens… 😉

  2. slowlane Avatar

    SOME REASONS for the USA’s declining teen birthrate: ( 1) teens today enjoy better access to contraception, including long-acting injectable and implantable methods which are longer-lasting than the “pill”. ( 2) the popularity of MTV’s hit reality show “16 and Pregnant” – which shows how young mothers struggle and cry over their situation – serves as cautionary tales to millions of viewers their age. U.S. teen birthrates in fact dropped 6% in the 18 months after the show’s first broadcasts. (3) the increasing availability of broadband internet, helps provide teens other means of exploring relationships and finding advice about effective forms of contraception, as well as information about options for ending unwanted pregnancies. (4) sex-education programs have changed, and today they include lessons on financial responsibility or focusing more on the development of a child’s character. (5) the economic downturn which began in 2006, has fostered less risk-taking and a more cautious attitude to having sex……The U.S. teen birthrate peaked in 1991, and has plummeted by 60% since then…. Research by the Guttmacher Institute shows the decline is likely NOT due to more abortions. U.S. abortions rates have actually declined or held steady.

  3. LarrytheG Avatar

    still not everyone is on board with providing access to birth control though – truth be told:

    ” IUDs Prevent Abortions. So Why Do Pro-Lifers Oppose Them?”

    ” Colorado is the latest state to embrace at least part of that prescription: The state distributed 30,000 contraceptive devices at low or no cost. And they saw teen birth rates fall by 40 percent.

    The Colorado program focused on intrauterine devices (IUDs), a highly effective form of birth control that lasts for several years and has a failure rate of less than one percent. That’s also one of the methods of birth control religious employers objected to in the Hobby Lobby case — and because of that decision, many women will no longer have affordable access to the most effective way of preventing unwanted pregnancy.

    IUDs are the most popular form of reversible contraception worldwide and are both safe and virtually foolproof. But the United States has lowest rate of IUD use of developed countries; our abortion rate is one of the highest.

    But cost is a significant barrier: Getting an IUD can exceed $1,000. The Colorado program, called the Colorado Family Planning Initiative and funded by an anonymous donor, was particularly effective because it removed the money roadblock, offering IUDs to low-income women in 68 family planning clinics across the state since 2009. That one program accounted for three-quarters of the decrease in teen births across the state, and counties with the initiative in place saw the teen abortion rate drop by 35 percent. It also saved the state a significant amount of money: For every dollar spent on family planning, the state saved $5.68 in Medicaid costs.

    To make IUDs and all contraception more affordable and accessible, which in addition to making it easier for women to prevent unwanted pregnancy also has significant economic and public health benefits (Colorado saved $42.5 million in 2010 alone), the Obama administration required full contraception coverage in its health care law. Anti-abortion groups objected. Even though contraception access has been shown to significantly reduce the abortion rate, there is not a single mainstream “pro-life” group in the United States that supports birth control access. “

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