NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Teen Pregnancy "Virtually Eliminated" In The Netherlands

March 7, 2001

Sex education and free contraceptives, along with fostering liberal attitudes toward sex, has virtually eliminated teen pregnancy as a health and social problem in the Netherlands, says Simone Buitendijk of the Dutch Institute for Applied Scientific Research.

Holland has fewer pregnant teenagers than most Western countries.

  • In the Netherlands less than 1 percent of 15- to 17-year-old women get pregnant each year.
  • Nearly 5 percent become pregnant in Britain, the highest rate in Western Europe.
  • The rate is 9.9 percent in the United States.

The Dutch have seen a steady drop in the number of young mothers for decades, even as the teen pregnancy rate has been increasing in other countries. While other countries have been teaching celibacy, the Dutch have accepted that teens are sexually active and have introduced measures to deal with it.

Oral contraceptives are available at pharmacies and free through the National Sick Fund, a state-funded system that ensures that low-income people have medical care. Statistics show that Dutch teenagers are using them.

  • In 1995, 70 percent of sexually active 18-year-olds were using birth control pills.
  • For students 3 or 4 years younger, the rate falls to 40 percent.
  • Eighty-five percent of teens used a condom, the pill or both during their first sexual experience.

Buitendijk attributes high contraceptive use by Dutch teenagers to "their sufficient knowledge of reproduction and contraception, the large amount of information available to them both in school and informally, and the general permissive attitude the Dutch hold toward teen sexuality."

Source: "Teen Pregnancy 'Virtually Eliminated' in The Netherlands," Reuters Health, March 2, 2001.


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