Economic Inequality Directly Linked To Rise In Teen Pregnancy Rates
1:00 pm, April 9th | by Amy Tennery
Yes, access to sex education has been shown to play a large factor in whether girls under the age of 20 will get pregnant. But a new report from the National Bureau of Economic Research shows that perceived economic outlook also plays a huge role in teen girls’ likelihood of becoming moms.
What do I mean by “perceived economic outlook?” Basically, it’s the feeling you get when you’re 17 and you’re figuring out whether you have a chance at things like college, a lucrative career, financial independence, et cetera. And the NBER report showed that the greater the economic inequity in a state, the greater the teen pregnancy rate — and those teen pregnancies were clustered among poor families in areas where financial inequality reigned.
Overall, that’s leading to a teen pregnancy rate in the U.S. that’s almost 10 times the rate seen in Switzerland, according to Business Insider.
Between different U.S. states, the rate of teen pregnancy is also wildly disproportionate. Mississippi (a state with staggering economic inequality) has a teen pregnancy rate four times the size of Maryland’s, as the Huffington Post noted. And while the study’s authors debunked the efficacy of abstinence education, they advocated for more opportunities for economic development, as a means of forestalling early motherhood.
Show girls that jobs, school and careers are within reach — and that they matter. Sounds like a solid plan.