This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Friday, September 2, 2016

Teenage Pregnancy Continues to Decline in US as Contraceptive Use Rises

Perhaps it is only a coincidence that as Labor Day Weekend starts, I am blogging about the avoidance of the labor of childbirth among U.S. teenagers. Researchers from the Guttmacher Institute have just published a study in the Journal of Adolescent Health (open-access, so you can read the whole thing) showing that the recent decline in pregnancies among U.S. teenagers is driven mainly by an increase in the use of contraception, rather than a decline in the proportion of teens having sex. The NYTimes covered the story:
Researchers interviewed a nationally representative sample of more than 3,000 women ages 15 to 19 at three different time periods: in 2007, 2009 and 2012. They then combined data on sexual activity, contraceptive use and contraceptive failure rates to calculate a Pregnancy Risk Index at these times. This risk index declined steadily at an annual rate of 5.6 percent.
The study, in the Journal of Adolescent Health, found that sexual activity in the last three months of each time period did not vary — about one-third of the young women had had sex during that time. But the percentage of teenagers who reported using contraception increased to 86 percent from 78 percent, and the share using more than one method increased to 37 percent from 26 percent.
This is important research because when I last blogged about the teen pregnancy decline back in 2013, no one was sure why this was happening. In addition to the increase in contraceptive use, another story about this in noted that more recent data on sexual activity among teens does suggest that since 2012 there has been a drop in sexual activity. This would be added good news. Less sex and more contraception adds up to an even greater likelihood that teenage pregnancies will drop to the low levels common in most other rich countries. That will be good for everyone.

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