Decline in Teen Birth-Rate

If you haven’t heard the news already, the CDC recently released a report that showed that the teen birth rate declined in 2009! This is great news for professionals within the field of teen pregnancy and sexual health, and TeenNow California is excited to continue to spread the news.

The report showed that the birth rate for US teenagers fell 6% in 2009 to the lowest level ever recorded in nearly seven decades. Teen birth rates fell significantly for all races and Hispanic origin groups between 2008 and 2009, with the birth rate for Hispanic teenagers falling 10% to the lowest rate ever reported for this group in the two decades the rates have been available.

Sources are citing a variety of reasons behind the decline, including the recession, increased contraception use, and even pop culture, such as the MTV reality show, 16 and Pregnant.

  • The Economy – Sarah Brown, chief executive of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, said in a recent Associated Press article, “I’m not suggesting that teens are examining futures of 401(k)s or how the market is doing…But I think they are living in families that experience that stress. They are living next door to families that lost their jobs…The recession has touched us all.”

Not everyone is completely behind the recession as a reason behind the decline, although some people do believe that it had an effect. Bill Albert of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy had skepticism about the recession explanation, but he did explain that “there is a mushy middle ground [of teens who] say, ‘Well, yeah, I wouldn’t want to get pregnant, but it wouldn’t be the worst thing that happened.” Albert explained that he thinks that this group of teens might have decided against sex or used contraception more strictly due to the economic struggles of their families and community members.

  • Increased Contraception Use – Rachel Jones of the Guttmacher Institute said, “Other than people conjecturing, there is no evidence that the recession has had a direct impact on teen sexual behaviors…It seems if we want to look for reasons for patterns in teen birth rates, [birth control use] is the one indicator that offers us practical insights.” Many news outlets and blogs are standing behind increased use of birth control methods as one of the main reasons behind the decline.
  • Pop Culture – Many news outlets cited Bristol Palin’s almost celebrity status for pushing teen pregnancy into the spotlight, while other sources are citing the MTV reality show 16 and Pregnant for convincing teens to use contraception or just not have sex. A report by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy indicated that 82% of teens say the show helps them better understand the challenges of teen pregnancy and parenthood and why they should avoid it.

While parts or all of these hypotheses may be correct, TeenNow California wants to hear from YOU! Whether you are a teen pregnancy or sexual health professional, or just someone who is interested in teen sexual health, leave a comment or email us at with your response and comments! Let us know more about your organization and what you have been doing to help reduce the teen-birth rate! We are looking forward to hearing from you and highlighting some of your responses in an up-coming article.


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