Despite drop US maintains high teen birth rate

Washington: The US teen birth rate fell to to an all-time low in 2009 but remains one of the highest in most industrialised nations, a new report has said.

Although teen births dropped 37 per cent nationwide over the last two decades to an all-time low in 2009, the rate is still 9 times higher than in other developed countries.

In 2009, 10.1 per cent of all births in the country were to teens, and 21.4 per cent of all non-marital births were to teens, latest available data has revealed.

According to latest figures, in 2009, the birth rate for teenagers between 15-17 was down 48 per cent from 1991.

With fewer teens entering into marriage, the proportion of births to unmarried teens has increased dramatically (87 per cent in 2009 versus 29 per cent in 1970), a Congressional report on the issue has informed US lawmakers.

"The high volume of pregnancies and birth rates among teenage and never-married women is often attributed to a liberal view of sexual activity. Some analysts also contend that contraceptive advancements have afforded women a false sense of security, thereby contributing to increased sexual activity and more pregnancies," said the report of the Congressional Research Service.

It appears that a consensus is now growing around the viewpoint that success in the teen pregnancy prevention arena does not necessarily have to be an "either-or" proposition in which abstinence-only education programs are pitted against comprehensive sex education programs, it said.

In 1950, the number of births to US females under age 20 was 438,000; by 1960, births to teens had increased nearly 36 per cent to 593,746; and by 1970 they had increased another 11 per cent to 656,460.

The peak birth rate for US teenagers occurred in 1957, with 96.3 births per 1,000 women aged 15-19.



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