Teen Pregnancy Rates Are Declining — Or Not

Mere months after pundits bemoaned the Juno effect following the release of statistics showing that teen pregnancy was on the rise in 2005-6, the CDC released a slew of new statistics yesterday reporting that teen pregnancy rates are falling drastically. What gives? Well, the first set of statistics were just for the years 2005 and 2006, whereas the figures released yesterday were gathered from 1990-2004. In 2004, only 12% of total births were to teenagers; in 1990 the rate was 15%. As for the upswing in teen pregnancies after 2004, CDC researcher Stephanie Ventura says, "It's way too early to know if this is the start of a new trend, but given the long-term progress we've witnessed, this change is notable."

Among the other longterm trends noted in the report released yesterday: Pregnancies have risen steadily among single women in their 20s, and nearly half the babies born (45 percent) were born to unwed mothers. And, according to a (not biased at all!) study sponsored by four groups who consider themselves part of the "marriage movement," unwed mothers are costing taxpayers more than $112 billion a year. The sponsored research was conducted by Georgia State University economist Ben Scafidi, and, reports MSNBC, the statistics "were based on the assumption that households headed by a single female have relatively high poverty rates, leading to higher spending on welfare, health care, criminal justice and education for those raised in the disadvantaged homes." Economics professor Tim Smeeding offers a dissenting opinion to those who think marriage is the answer to those ballooning taxpayer costs: "I have nothing against marriage — relationship-building is great. But alone it's not going to do the job. A full-employment economy would probably be the best thing — decent, stable jobs."

Teen Birth Rate Rises For First Time In 14 Years [CDC]
Pregnancy Rate Drops For U.S. Women Under Age 25 [CDC]
Fewer U.S. teens Are Getting Pregnant: Study [Reuters]
Study: Divorce, Unwed Parenting Costs Billions [MSNBC]

Earlier: Teenage Pregnancies On The Upswing; Is Angelina To Blame?