U.S. Teen Pregnancy, Birth and Abortion Rates Reach the Lowest Levels in Almost Four Decades
Apr 11, 2016 - 11:24:49 AM
Graphic: U.S. teen pregnancy, birth and abortion rates reached historic lows in 2011
Rates are also continuing a long-term decline at the state level. In 2011, the states with the highest teen pregnancy rates were New Mexico, Mississippi and Arkansas. The lowest teen pregnancy rates were observed in New Hampshire, Minnesota and Vermont. The authors note that disparities in teen pregnancy rates and outcomes between states are likely due to a variety of factors, including differences in state demographic characteristics, the availability of comprehensive sex education, and knowledge about and availability of contraceptive services.
Graphic: U.S. Teen Pregnancy Rates in 2011: The highest teen pregnancy rates are found in the South and Southwest
"Teens have become more successful at preventing pregnancy than they were in the past. Sexual activity has remained constant among this age-group, but birth and abortion rates have both decreased dramatically," says lead author Kathryn Kost. "The available evidence suggests that increased contraceptive use is the primary driver of this decline."
Although rates of teen pregnancy and its outcomes have declined among all racial and ethnic groups, wide disparities persist. In 2011, pregnancy rates among non-Hispanic black teens (92.6 per 1,000) and Hispanic teens (73.5 per 1,000) were more than double the pregnancy rate for non-Hispanic white teens (35.3 per 1,000). Similarly, teen birth and abortion rates differ substantially across racial and ethnic groups. These disparities mirror those found in unintended pregnancy rates among all U.S. women of reproductive age, which are several times higher among women of color than among white women.
"Though declines in teen pregnancy, birth and abortion rates were observed among all groups, large disparities by race and ethnicity still exist at the national and state level," comments Guttmacher policy expert Heather Boonstra. "It's crucial that teens in all racial and ethnic groups, and in all geographic areas of the United States, are able to access the information and services they need to prevent unwanted pregnancies and achieve their goals."
Researchers analyzed birth data from the National Center for Health Statistics and abortion data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Guttmacher's Abortion Provider Census to calculate the 2011 teen pregnancy rate. Population data are from the U.S. Census Bureau. The Guttmacher Institute regularly updates teen pregnancy statistics as part of our ongoing surveillance of pregnancy statistics for the United States. The methodology has been updated from previous reports to ensure the most accurate data; therefore, previous years' statistics may differ slightly from those in earlier reports.
Read the full reports:
"U.S. Teenage Pregnancies, Births and Abortions, 2011: National Trends by Age, Race and Ethnicity," by Kathryn Kost and Isaac Maddow-Zimet.
"U.S. Teenage Pregnancies, Births and Abortions, 2011: State Trends by Age, Race and Ethnicity," by Kathryn Kost and Isaac Maddow-Zimet.
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