Teen pregnancy rates are down, but not in the Bible Belt
On April 18, 2012 At 9:35 am
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Despite best efforts by Christians to give their children a moral education from the Bible, teen pregnancy rates are skyrocketing in the Bible Belt. In the below CDC graphic, the dark green shows there are the key indicates the number of births for every 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 19 in a state. For example, in dark green states, there are 50 or more pregnancies for every 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 19. The graphic shows a strong correlation between religion and pregnancy–as found by a 2009 study finding the same.
What is the cause of the rampant rise in teen pregnancies in the Bible Belt? The Atlantic explains:
Teenage births remain high in more religious states. The correlation between teenage birthrates and the percentage of adults who say they are “very religious” is considerable (.69). The 2009 study posited that attitudes toward contraception play a significant role, noting that "religious communities in the U.S. are more successful in discouraging the use of contraception among their teenagers than they are in discouraging sexual intercourse itself."
Teen birthrates also hew closely to America’s political divide. They are substantially higher in conservative states that voted for McCain in 2008 (with a correlation of .65) and negatively correlated with states that voted for Obama (-.62).
Class plays a substantial role as well. Teen births are negatively associated with average state income (-.62), the share of the workforce in knowledge, professional, and creative class jobs (-.61), and especially with the share of adults who are college graduates (-.76). Conversely, teen birthrates are higher in more working class states (with a positive correlation of .58).
The impact of strong pregnancy prevention messages directed to teenagers has been credited with
the birth rate declines (9–11). Recently released data from the National Survey of Family Growth,
conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Health
Statistics (NCHS), have shown increased use of contraception at first initiation of sex and use of
dual methods of contraception (that is, condoms and hormonal methods) among sexually active
female and male teenagers. These trends may have contributed to the recent birth rate declines