Teen Birth Rate At Record LowS

Well, here's something lots of people will take credit for: The record fall in the teen birth rate. What's going on here?

According to the National Center For Health Statistics, as cited by The Washington Post:

The birth rate among U.S. girls aged 15 to 19 fell to 39.1 births per 1,000 teens in 2009, the most recent year for which statistics are available. That's a 6 percent drop from 2008 and the lowest rate ever recorded in the nearly 70 years that the federal government has been collecting reliable data, according to a preliminary analysis of data from the National Center for Health Statistics.

That number has dropped 16 out of the last 18 years, but there was briefly a spike in 2005 and 2006, which is now seen to be an aberration. The U.S. is still the industrialized nation with the highest rate of teen pregnancy.

So why's it happened? Speculative answers include the recession (though experts don't usually think about teenagers making decisions based on that); early data indicates that better access to contraceptives could be it. Of course, abstinence-only education people are jumping in to say that it's because of their programs.

Oh, and by the way, "The birth rate for women in their early 20s fell 7 percent, which is the largest decline for this age group since 1973." Is that also because of abstinence (not likely to be universally true) or is it because women are using contraception and other means to make the choices that are right for them about childbearing?

Teen Birth Rate Hits Record Low [WP]