In the News Pregnancy

Teen Pregnancy is Declining: Here’s What You Need to Know

Wait. Teen Pregnancy is declining?

Yep! And drastically. In 2014, there were 42% fewer teen births than there were in 2007.

Huh. What gives?

It turns out, teenagers are being more responsible with their use of birth control now than ever before. The number of sexually active teenage girls using birth control the last time they had sex rose from 78% in 2007 to 86% in 2012 (the latest year for which data is available). And use of the morning-after pill among teens has spiked since age limits on getting it without a prescription were removed. Not only that, more teenage girls are using pills, IUDs, and implants than condoms.

Hey, what do you have against condoms?

Well, they protect against STIs so we love them for that, but they’re vastly less reliable and more subject to user error.

But aren’t teenagers more sexual than ever now? Hookup culture, sexting, etc?

Actually, it appears that they’re having less sex. In 2012, teenagers were having sex at roughly the same rates as they were in 2007. But between 2013 and 2015, the percentage of teenage girls who’d had sex dropped from 46% to 39.2%. Not only that, but they’re also drinking less, smoking less, and doing less drugs.

Wow. Why the change?

Some have attributed the decrease in sex to increased time spent online, more frank discussion and less taboo around sexuality, or to a more “cautious” generation, but the truth is that no one actually knows. Taking a long view, though, teen pregnancy has been declining steadily since 1990.

So, the kids are all right? Maybe?

There’s certainly a lot of encouraging evidence to suggest it! Interest in political and civic engagement among college freshmen is at an all-time high, and teens are more likely to be excited about Lin-Manuel Miranda than Kim Kardashian.

How dare you besmirch the good name of Kim Kardashian?!

Sorry.

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