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Trends in Teen Pregnancy and Childbearing

Teen Births

In 2016, there were 20.3 births for every 1,000 adolescent females ages 15-19, or 209,809 babies born to females in this age group.1 Births to teens ages 15-19 account for 5.3 percent of all births in 2016. Nearly nine in ten (89 percent) of these births occurred outside of marriage.1 The 2016 teen birth rate (births per 1,000 females ages 15-19 in a given year) is down nine percent from 2015, when the birth rate was 22.3, and down 67 percent from 1991 when it was at a record high of 61.8.1 The teen birth rate has declined more or less continuously over the past quarter century, and is at the lowest level ever recorded. Still, the teen birth rate in the United States remains higher than that in many other developed countries, including Canada and the United Kingdom.2

Not all teen births are first births. In 2016, one in six (17 percent) births to 15- to 19-year-olds were to females who already had one or more births.1 Avoiding repeat teen births is one of the goals of OAH’s Pregnancy Assistance Fund (PAF) grant program to states and tribes. Grantees may use PAF Program funds to help expectant and parenting teens complete high school or earn postsecondary degrees, as well as to gain access to health care, child care, family housing, and other critical supports. The money can also be used to improve services for pregnant women who are victims of domestic violence and to increase public awareness and education efforts surrounding teen pregnancy prevention, among other activities. Through PAF Program grants, OAH also supports work with adolescent males who become young fathers. Find more information about the Pregnancy Assistance Fund.

Variations in Teen Birth Rates Across Populations

Teen birth rates differ substantially by age, racial and ethnic group, and region of the country. Most adolescents who give birth are 18 or older; in 2016, 74 percent of all teen births occurred to 18- to 19-year-olds.1 Birth rates are also higher among Hispanic and black adolescents than among their white counterparts. In 2016, Hispanic adolescent females ages 15-19 had a higher birth rate (31.9 births per 1,000 adolescent females) than black adolescent females (29.3) and white adolescent females (14.3) (see Figure 1).1 To help put these differences in perspective, estimates from 2013 show that eight percent of white adolescent females will give birth by their 20th birthday, as will 16 percent of black adolescent females and 17 percent of Hispanic adolescent females.3

Although Hispanics still have a higher teen birth rate than their black and white peers, the rate has declined substantially in recent years. Since 2007, the teen birth rate among Hispanics has declined by 58 percent, compared with declines of 53 percent for blacks and 47 percent for whites.1

Figure 1: Birth rates per 1,000 females ages 15-19, by race and Hispanic origin of mother, 1990-2016

A chart showing a dramatic decrease in teen birth rates since 1991 among white, black, and Hispanic females ages 15-19

Source: Martin, J.A., Hamilton, B.E., Osterman, M.J., Driscoll, A.K., & Drake, P. (2018). Births: Final data for 2016. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics.

Table 1: Birth rates per 1,000 females ages 15-19, by race and Hispanic origin of mother, 1990-2016

Year Collected Total White Black Hispanic
1990 59.9 42.5 116.2 100.3
1991 61.8 43.4 118.2 104.6
1992 60.3 41.7 114.7 103.3
1993 59.0 40.7 110.5 101.8
1994 58.2 40.4 105.7 101.3
1995 56.0 39.3 97.2 99.3
1996 53.5 37.6 91.9 94.6
1997 51.3 36.0 88.3 89.6
1998 50.3 35.3 85.7 87.9
1999 48.8 34.1 81.0 86.8
2000 47.7 32.6 79.2 87.3
2001 45.0 30.3 73.1 84.4
2002 42.6 28.6 67.7 80.6
2003 41.1 27.4 63.7 78.4
2004 40.5 26.7 61.8 78.1
2005 39.7 26.0 59.4 76.5
2006 41.1 26.7 61.9 77.4
2007 41.5 27.2 62.0 75.3
2008 40.2 26.7 60.4 70.3
2009 37.9 25.7 56.7 63.6
2010 34.3 23.5 51.5 55.7
2011 31.3 21.7 47.3 49.6
2012 29.4 20.5 43.9 46.3
2013 26.5 18.6 39.0 41.7
2014 24.2 17.3 34.9 38.0
2015 22.3 16.0 31.8 34.9
2016 20.3 14.3 29.3 31.9

Teen birth rates also vary substantially across regions and states. In 2016, the lowest teen birth rates were reported in the Northeast, while rates were highest in states across the southern part of the country (see Figure 2).1 See how your state compares on birth rates, pregnancy rates, sexual activity, and contraceptive use with OAH’s reproductive health state fact sheets.

Figure 2: Birth rates per 1,000 females ages 15 – 19 year olds, by state, 2016

A map of teen birth rates among females ages 15 to 19, by state, in 2016.

Source: Martin, J.A., Hamilton, B.E., Osterman, M.J., Driscoll, A.K., & Drake, P. (2018). Births: Final data for 2016. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/sosmap/teen-births/teenbirths.htm 

Table 2: Birth rates per 1,000 females ages 15-19, by state, 2016

State Teen birth rate (ages 15-19 year) Teen birth rate range
United States 20.3  
Alabama 28.4 28.0 - 34.6 (dark red)
Alaska 25.8 23.4 - 26.1 (red)
Arizona 23.6 23.4 - 26.1 (red)
Arkansas 34.6 28.0 - 34.6 (dark red)
California 17.0 15.5 - 17.8 (light orange)
Colorado 17.8 15.5 - 17.8 (light orange)
Connecticut 9.4 8.5 - 15.0 (cream)
Delaware 19.5 18.7 - 21.9 (orange)
District of Columbia 24.0 23.4 - 26.1 (red)
Florida 19.3 18.7 - 21.9 (orange)
Georgia 23.6 23.4 - 26.1 (red)
Hawaii 19.2 18.7 - 21.9 (orange)
Idaho 20.1 18.7 - 21.9 (orange)
Illinois 18.7 18.7 - 21.9 (orange)
Indiana 23.6 23.4 - 26.1 (red)
Iowa 17.2 15.5 - 17.8 (light orange)
Kansas 21.9 18.7 - 21.9 (orange)
Kentucky 30.9 28.0 - 34.6 (dark red)
Louisiana 30.6 28.0 - 34.6 (dark red)
Maine 14.7 8.5 - 15.0 (cream)
Maryland 15.9 15.5 - 17.8 (light orange)
Massachusetts 8.5 8.5 - 15.0 (cream)
Michigan 17.7 15.5 - 17.8 (light orange)
Minnesota 12.6 8.5 - 15.0 (cream)
Mississippi 32.6 28.0 - 34.6 (dark red)
Missouri 23.4 23.4 - 26.1 (red)
Montana 23.7 23.4 - 26.1 (red)
Nebraska 19.1 18.7 - 21.9 (orange)
Nevada 24.2 23.4 - 26.1 (red)
New Hampshire 9.3 8.5 - 15.0 (cream)
New Jersey 11.0 8.5 - 15.0 (cream)
New Mexico 29.8 28.0 - 34.6 (dark red)
New York 13.2 8.5 - 15.0 (cream)
North Carolina 21.8 18.7 - 21.9 (orange)
North Dakota 20.3 18.7 - 21.9 (orange)
Ohio 21.8 18.7 - 21.9 (orange)
Oklahoma 33.4 28.0 - 34.6 (dark red)
Oregon 16.6 15.5 - 17.8 (light orange)
Pennsylvania 15.8 15.5 - 17.8 (light orange)
Rhode Island 12.9 8.5 - 15.0 (cream)
South Carolina 23.7 23.4 - 26.1 (red)
South Dakota 25.1 23.4 - 26.1 (red)
Tennessee 28.0 28.0 - 34.6 (dark red)
Texas 31.0 28.0 - 34.6 (dark red)
Utah 15.6 15.5 - 17.8 (light orange)
Vermont 10.3 8.5 - 15.0 (cream)
Virginia 15.5 15.5 - 17.8 (light orange)
Washington 16.6 15.5 - 17.8 (light orange)
West Virginia 29.3 28.0 - 34.6 (dark red)
Wisconsin 15.0 8.5 - 15.0 (cream)
Wyoming 26.1 23.4 - 26.1 (red)

Teen Pregnancies

The national teen pregnancy rate (number of pregnancies per 1,000 females ages 15-19) has declined almost continuously over the last quarter of the century. The teen pregnancy rate includes pregnancies that end in a live birth, as well as those that end in abortion or miscarriage (fetal loss).* The teen pregnancy rate declined by 63 percent in less than 25 years — from 117.6 pregnancies per 1,000 females ages 15-19 in 1990 to 43.4 in 2013 (the most recent year in which data are available).4 According to recent research, this decline is due to the combination of an increased percentage of adolescents who are waiting to have sexual intercourse and the increased use of effective contraceptives by teens.4,5

About 77 percent of teen pregnancies are unplanned. In other words, they are unwanted or occurred “too soon,” according to a national survey of adolescents.6 In 2013, the majority of pregnancies to adolescent females ages 15-19 in the United States — an estimated 61 percent — ended in a live birth; 15 percent ended in a miscarriage; and 25 percent ended in an abortion. The rate of abortions among adolescents is the lowest since abortion was legalized in 1973 and is 76 percent lower than its peak in 1988.4

* The teen pregnancy rate is the sum all live births, abortions, and miscarriages (or fetal losses) per 1,000 adolescent females ages 15-19 in a given year.

Characteristics Associated with Adolescent Childbearing

Numerous individual, family, and community characteristics have been linked to adolescent childbearing. For example, adolescents who are enrolled in school and engaged in learning (including participating in after-school activities, having positive attitudes toward school, and performing well educationally) are less likely than are other adolescents to have or to father a baby. 7 At the family level, adolescents with mothers who gave birth as teens and/or whose mothers have only a high school degree are more likely to have a baby before age 20 than are teens whose mothers were older at their birth or who attended at least some college. In addition, having lived with both biological parents at age 14 is associated with a lower risk of a teen birth.8 At the community level, adolescents who live in wealthier neighborhoods with strong levels of employment are less likely to have or to father a baby than are adolescents in neighborhoods in which income and employment opportunities are more limited.7



Footnotes


1 Martin, J.A., Hamilton, B.E., Osterman, M.J., Driscoll, A.K., & Drake, P. (2018). Births: Final data for 2016. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. Retrieved April 17, 2018, from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr67/nvsr67_01.pdf
2 United Nations Statistics Division. (2015). Demographic Yearbook 2013. New York, NY: United Nations. Retrieved May 4, 2016, from http://unstats.un.org/unsd/demographic/products/dyb/dyb2013/Table10.pdf.
3 Cook, E. (Unpublished). Percentage of teens who will experience a first birth based on analyses of NCHS Vital Statistics 2013 final birth data. Washington, DC: Child Trends.
4 Kost, K., Maddow-Zimet, I., & Arpaia, A. (2017). Pregnancies, births and abortions among adolescents and young women in the United States, 2013: National and state trends by age, race and ethnicity. Guttmacher Institute. Retrieved April 17, 2018, from https://www.guttmacher.org/sites/default/files/report_pdf/us-adolescent-pregnancy-trends-2013.pdf
5 Santelli, J. S., Lindberg, L. D., Finer, L. B., & Singh, S. (2007). Explaining recent declines in adolescent pregnancy in the United States: The contribution of abstinence and improved contraceptive use. American Journal of Public Health, 97(1), 150-156.
6 Mosher, W. D., Jones, J., Abma, J.C. (2012). Intended and unintended births in the United States: 1982-2010. National Center for Health Statistics. Vital Health Stat (55). Retrieved May 4, 2016, from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr055.pdf.
7 Kirby, D., & Lepore, G. (2007). Sexual risk and protective factors: Factors affecting teen sexual behavior, pregnancy, childbearing and sexually transmitted disease. Washington, DC: ETR Associates and The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. Retrieved May 4, 2016, from https://thenationalcampaign.org/sites/default/files/resource-primary-download/protective_factors_full.pdf.
8 Martinez, G., Copen, C. E., & Abma, J. C. (2011). Teenagers in the United States: Sexual activity, contraceptive use, and childbearing, 2006-2010 National Survey of Family Growth. Vital Health Statistics, 23(31). Retrieved May 4, 2016, from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_23/sr23_031.pdf.
Content created by Office of Adolescent Health
Content last reviewed on June 2, 2016