Adolescent pregnancy in the United States: an interstate analysis

Fam Plann Perspect. Sep-Oct 1986;18(5):210-20.

Abstract

Rates of teenage pregnancy, birth and abortion vary greatly among states. Because states that have high birthrates tend to have low abortion rates, pregnancy levels vary much less than do the birth and abortion measures. The role of unintended pregnancy is highlighted by the fact that in states that have very high pregnancy rates, the adolescent abortion rate is higher than the birthrate and the abortion rate combined in states that have the lowest pregnancy rates. A series of multivariate analyses that controlled for the percentage of the state population that was black, poor and metropolitan showed that social factors tend to be more important determinants of state differences in teenage pregnancy, birth and abortion levels than are policy-related variables, particularly for whites. Nevertheless, some policy measures have important associations for both races, especially for blacks. Social factors. High rates of population growth and residential mobility over the previous decade, a high crime rate, a high teenage suicide rate, extensive circulation of sexually explicit magazines, a large percentage not voting in elections and a high level of stress are all associated with high pregnancy-related rates for teenagers. The percentage of children living in female-headed households correlates positively with abortion and pregnancy levels among white teenagers, but has no significant association with the birthrate. The percentage of a state's population that belongs to fundamentalist religious groups is positively associated with adolescent birthrates. Political liberalism correlates with relatively low pregnancy rates and birthrates but with a somewhat higher likelihood of pregnancies being terminated by abortion. In states where women's status is higher, birthrates are lower, but abortion levels are higher. Policy measures. States that have high proportions of teenagers dropping out of school and of young women not graduating from high school tend to have high pregnancy rates and birthrates and a somewhat lower proportion of pregnancies ending in abortion. Increased spending on education is associated with relatively high abortion rates (and, therefore, pregnancy rates). The higher the teacher-student ratio, the lower the adolescent birthrate and the more likely the pregnant teenager is to have an abortion. Welfare payments to teenage mothers are negatively associated with both black and white teenage birthrates, and higher maximum payments are associated with relatively high abortion levels.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

PIP: Rates of US teenage pregnancy, birth and abortion vary greatly among states. Because states that have high birthrates tend to have low abortion rates, pregnancy levels vary much less than do the birth and abortion measures. The role of unintended pregnancy is highlighted by the fact that in states that have very high pregnancy rates, the adolescent abortion rate is higher than the birthrate and the abortion rate combined is states that have lowest pregnancy rates. A series of multivariate analyses that controlled for the % of the state population that was black, poor and metropolitan showed that social factors tend to be more important determinants of state differences is teenage pregnancy, birth and abortion levels than are policy-related variables, particularly for whites. Nevertheless, some policy measures have important associations for both races, especially for blacks. High rates of population growth and residential mobility over the previous decade, a high crime rate, a high teenage suicide rate, extensive circulation of sexually explicit magazines, a large % not voting in elections and a high level of stress are all associated with high pregnancy-related rates for teenagers. The % of children living in female-headed households correlates positively with abortion and pregnancy levels among white teenagers, but has no significant association with the birth rate. States that have high proportions of teenagers dropping out of school and of young women not graduating from high school tend to have high pregnancy rates and birth rates and a somewhat lower proportion of pregnancies ending in abortion. Increased spending on education is associated with relatively high abortion rates. The higher the teacher-student ratio, the lower the adolescent birth rate and the more likely the pregnant teenager is to have an abortion. Welfare payments to teenage mothers are negatively associated with both black and white teenage birth rates, and higher maximum payments are associated with relatively high abortion levels. The availability of Medicaid funds for abortion is associated with relatively high abortion levels and significantly lower birthrates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Spontaneous
  • Adolescent
  • Biometry
  • Birth Rate
  • Demography
  • Family Planning Services
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy in Adolescence*
  • Public Policy
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • State Government
  • United States