U.S. Teen Pregnancy Rate at Its Lowest Since 1972

According to a new report from the Guttmacher Institute, the U.S. teen pregnancy rate has declined 42% from its peak in 1990 and is now at its lowest rate in nearly 40 years. The report is based on teen pregnancy data from 1972 through 2008.  Key findings include:

  • The pregnancy rate among teenagers was 67.8 pregnancies per 1,000 women aged 15–19; or about 7% of the population.
  • Among women younger than 15, the pregnancy rate fell even more in that period, from 17.5 to 6.6 per 1,000.
  • Among non-Hispanic white teenagers, the pregnancy rate has declined 50% since 1990
  • The pregnancy rate among black women aged 15–19 fell 48% between 1990 and 2008
  • Among Hispanic teenagers (of any race), the pregnancy rate fell 37% from its highest level between 1992 and 2008 (from 169.7 per 1,000 to 106.6).
  • From 1986 to 2008, the proportion of teenage pregnancies ending in abortion declined by one-third, from 46% to 31%.
  • The 2008 teenage abortion rate was 17.8 abortions per 1,000 women. This figure is the lowest since abortion was legalized and 59% lower than its peak in 1988.
  • The teenage birthrate in 2008 was 40.2 births per 1,000 women. This was 35% lower than the peak rate of 61.8, reached in 1991.

Sarah Brown, CEO of The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, acknowledges the progress but points out that teen childbearing continues to cost taxpayers billions of dollars annually, that early pregnancy and childbearing contribute to dropping out of high school, and that significant disparities in teen pregnancy remain among black, white, and Hispanic teens.

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