NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Teen Birthrates Here Still Higher Than in Some Other Major Countries

November 29, 2001

While U.S. teen birthrates have declined throughout the 1990s, they are still substantially higher than in England, Canada, France and Sweden. So concludes a study conducted by the Alan Guttmacher Institute. It is not reported whether the new study differentiates between pregnancies (which of course can be terminated) and live births.

Even states in the U.S. with the lowest birth rates are still at or above those of the comparison countries.

Here are some other findings:

  • Teen sexual activity and age at initiation of sex "do not vary appreciably" among the five countries.
  • But U.S. teens are more likely to start having intercourse at the youngest age -- around 15 years of age -- and to have multiple sexual partners.
  • European teens are more likely to use birth control -- especially birth-control pills -- than U.S. teens.

These conclusions have added to the debate between groups advocating different approaches to combating teen pregnancy. Groups advocating traditional family values see the findings as part of a propaganda campaign by sex education advocates who want to eliminate funding for abstinence education.

For instance, among the report's recommendations is wider "societal acceptance of sexual activity among young people."

Source: Cheryl Wetzstein, "Study: U.S. Teen Birthrates Fall, But Europe Does Better," Washington Times, November 29, 2001.


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