America’s teen birth rate has been dropping for several years now. However, new CDC numbers suggest it’s not dropping as fast in rural areas.
The L.A. Times looks at the latest numbers from the CDC, noting that, “the teen birth rate in America’s small towns is 63% higher than in its biggest cities.” (Specifically, live births per 1,000 women 15 to 19 were 18.9 in urban counties, versus 30.9 in rural counties.)
That reflects decreases between 2007 and 2015 pretty much everywhere:
Large urban counties recorded the biggest drop over those eight years. In 2007, the birth rate for 15-to-19-year-olds was 38.1 births per 1,000 women. It has since plunged by 50%.
Next came counties with smaller urban areas, where the teen birth rate is now 44% lower than the 43.1-per-1,000 rate seen in 2007.
Rural counties started out with the highest birth rate — 49.1 births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 19 — and saw it fall 37% over eight years.
It’s just that rates are dropping faster some places than others: “For all of the areas—rural, large, medium, small—they’ve all declined across the board,” Brady Hamilton, one of the latest report’s authors, told Vox. “What’s interesting, though, is that it is immediately apparent looking at the classifications that there are still differences. Teen birthrates in the rural areas are noticeably higher.”
The report’s authors couldn’t say why this was happening, and they didn’t look at abortion rates or what sort of sex ed the different areas might have. But Vox talked to Ginny Ehrlich of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, who hazarded a guess: “I think the reasons for this are pretty aligned to access issues,” she said. “We know that information and actual contraceptive services are more limited in rural areas, and people who live in more urban areas tend to have better access to contraception.”
Reminder that teens love free long-acting reversible contraceptives!