Research indicates that giving birth as a teen can have negative consequences on both mothers and their children. Giving birth at an early age can limit a young woman’s options regarding education and employment opportunities, increases the likelihood that she will need public assistance, and can have negative effects on the development of her children.83
Between 1960 and 1985, birth rates for teens ages 15 through 19 dropped from 89.1 to 51.0 per 1,000 teen women. This trend reversed between 1986 and 1991, and the teen birth rate increased to 62.1 per 1,000 teen women. Since 1991, the teen birth rate has again turned
downward, declining to 49.6 births per 1,000 teen women by 1999, a record low for the U.S. (see Figure SD 4.6).
Differences by Race and Hispanic Origin.84 The trends described in the previous paragraph are evident for white, black, and American Indian/Alaska Native 85 women ages 15 through 19.
The birth rate for black teens has remained about twice that of white teens since 1960. In 1999, the birth rate for white teens was 34.1 per 1,000 teen women, and for black teens it was 81.1 per 1,000 teen women. Black teens had the highest birth rate until 1994, when the rate for Hispanic teens surpassed that of blacks; the Hispanic rate has remained at a higher level through 1999. Black teens experienced a 30 percent drop in birth rates between 1991 and 1999, from 115.5 to 81.1 per 1,000 women ages 15 through 19. The birth rate for black teens is now at its lowest point in the more than 30 years for which detailed statistics for black teens have been available (see Table SD 4.6).
Differences by Age. Teen birth rates increase with age. In 1999, the birth rate for all teens ages 15 through 17 was 28.7 per 1,000 teen women; for those ages 18 or 19, it was 80.2 per 1,000. Rates for teen females ages 10 through 14 were considerably lower at 0.9 per 1,000. For black and Hispanic teens, the birth rate among 18- and 19-year-olds was more than twice that of the 15- through 17-year-old teen females. The birth rate of white, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Asian/Pacific Islander teen females ages 18 or 19 are over two and a half times that of younger teens ages 15 through 17.
83 Moore, K.A. 1993. Teenage Childbearing: A Pragmatic Perspective. Washington, D.C.: Child Trends, Inc.; Maynard, R.A. (ed.). 1996. Kids Having Kids: A Robin Hood Foundation Special Report on the Costs of Adolescent Childbearing. New York: The Robin Hood Foundation.
84 Estimates for white and black teens do not include those of Hispanic origin in the text. Teens of Hispanic origin may be of any race.
85 Data for American Indians/Alaska Natives available since 1980.
Table SD 4.6 Teen birth rates in the United States by age of mother and by race and Hispanic origin (births per 1,000 females in each age group) Selected years: 1960-1999
|Ages 18 or 19||166.7||124.5||114.7||85.0||82.1||79.6||88.6||89.1||86.0||83.6||82.0||80.2|
|Ages 18 or 19||154.6||111.9||101.5||74.0||73.2||70.4||78.0||81.2||78.4||75.9||74.6||73.4|
|Ages 18 or 19||—||—||—||—||67.7||—||66.6||66.1||63.7||61.9||60.6||59.0|
|Ages 18 or 19||—||227.6||204.9||152.4||135.1||132.4||152.9||137.1||132.5||130.1||126.9||122.9|
|Ages 18 or 19||—||—||—||—||126.9||—||147.7||157.9||151.1||144.3||140.1||139.0|
|American Indian/Alaska Nativeb|
|Ages 18 or 19||—||—||—||—||129.5||124.1||129.3||130.7||122.3||117.6||118.4||110.4|
|Ages 18 or 19||—||—||—||—||46.2||40.8||40.2||43.4||40.4||39.3||38.3||38.8|
a Beginning in 1980, births have been tabulated by race and ethnicity of the mother. Prior to 1980, births were tabulated by race of child, assigning a child to the race of the nonwhite parent, if any, or to the race of the father, if both are nonwhite.
b Includes persons of Hispanic origin.
c Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race.
d Data for Hispanics have been available only since 1980, with 22 states reporting in 1980, representing 90 percent of the Hispanic population. Hispanic birth data were reported by 23 states and the District of Columbia in 1985; 48 states and the District of Columbia in 1990; 49 states and the District of Columbia in 1991 and 1992; and all 50 states and the District of Columbia since 1993. Rates in 1985 were not calculated for Hispanics because estimates for populations were not available.
Sources: Curtin & Martin. 2000. Births. Ventura, et al., 1999, Births, Tables 4 and 9; Ventura, Mathews, & Curtin, 1998, Births, Tables 1 and 2; Ventura, et al., 1998, Table 4; Centers for Disease Control, National Center for Health Statistics. Vital Statistics of the United States, Volume 1, Natality. Annual Issues, Table: Birth Rates by Age of Mother and Race and Hispanic Origin: United States, 1940-97; and Mathews, et al., 1998, Table 1.
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