The teen pregnancy rate has been declining for more than a decade. This is good news. And this is not just a decline in the teen birth rate; if that were all, that might mean that the pregnancy rate was the same, but more of them ended with abortions, which not be so good. No, the actual pregnancy rate has gone down steadily.
Every year about 100 out of every 1000 teen-age girls gets pregnant. That is still a large number. But a decade or so ago, it was 120. This represents a significant improvement. A report done in 1999 for the Allan Guttmacher Institute made an educated guess at which factors contributed to the decline most. By the estimates of Jacqueline E. Darroch and Susheela Singh:
1/4th of the drop came from increased rates of sexual abstinence;
1/4th of the drop came from sexually active girls having sex less often;
1/2 of the drop came from sexually active girls using more effective birth control.
- More of them reported using some kind of birth control the first time they had sex.
- An increasing number of girls are using the new, longer-lasting methods of birth control that are injected or implanted.
Further good news is that the abortion rate for pregnant teens also went down.
Darroch and Singh do not speculate on why, exactly, each of these good causes improved. On the face of it, though, it would appear that a combination of improved birth control, improved education about birth control, and an improved level of self-control by teenagers, all worked together to make the lives of these teens, their families, and the children they prudently waited to have, better.