NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Births To Teens Decline Again

October 27, 1999

The proportion of teenage girls giving birth fell again in 1998 -- the seventh straight year of decline. But a larger proportion of those teen mothers were not married, according to the latest report from the National Center for Health Statistics.

  • High school girls ages 15 to 17 years had the lowest birth rate in 40 years, while those ages 10 to 14 recorded the lowest rate since 1969.
  • African-American teenagers recorded the lowest birth rate since 1960, when such data were first gathered -- and the rate among Hispanic women also dropped precipitously.
  • Vermont and Alaska witnessed the biggest declines -- with Rhode Island, Arkansas and Puerto Rico reporting the smallest.

Even with the drop in rates, births to U.S. teens far exceed rates in other industrialized countries. For example, the U.S. state with the lowest rate equals about the highest rate in the developed world.

Experts theorize that sexual activity among young people is on the wane. They also cite more consistent use of birth control to explain the overall decline.

In a related development, it is being reported that 300,000 children have been born through in vitro fertilization worldwide since 1981. Some 60,000 were born in the U.S.

Source: Marc Lacey, "Teen-Age Birth Rate in U.S. Falls Again," and Carey Goldberg, "Just Another Girl, Unlike Any Other," both New York Times, October 27, 1999.


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