Historic 70% Decline in U.S. Teen Birth Rate

Press release

Historic 70% Decline in U.S. Teen Birth Rate

November 16, 2018

(Washington, D.C.) —The U.S. teen birth rate has declined 70% since peaking in 1991 and is at a new record low according to a new study from the Center for Disease Control (CDC).  The historic declines include: 

  • 70% decline in teen births between 1991 and 2017.
  • 55% decline in teen births between 2009 and 2017.
  • 7% decline in teen births between 2016 and 2017

The report also notes significant declines in teen births between 2016 and 2017 among all racial/ethnic groups, including: 

  • 15% decline among non-Hispanic Asian teens
  • 11% decline among non-Hispanic Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander teens
  • 9% decline among Hispanic teens
  • 8% decline among non-Hispanic white teens
  • 6% decline among non-Hispanic Black and American Indian/Alaska Native teens 

In response, Colleen Crittenden Murray, Senior Science Officer, Power to Decide, issued the following statement:

“It is highly probable that the historic decline in teen birth rates can be explained by the combination of improved access to and consistent use of birth control.  In addition, we know that teenagers are having less sex, which has also contributed to the declines.  The new data is significant for what it represents for young women across the country.  Young people who do not have children are more likely to finish high school and pursue higher education opportunities or join the workforce.”

“A recent poll conducted by Power to Decide revealed that access and information about birth control received considerable public support. Unfortunately, this access is under attack.  Misguided policies by the current Presidential Administration would further limit women’s ability to access birth control methods that are right for them. Notably, this limitation will be more pronounced among lower income and rural communities, thus continuing to restrict the basic health care they deserve.”

“The Affordable Care Act and the expansion of Medicaid increased access to affordable and quality contraception for women and as a result have also contributed to the steady decline in teen birth rates.  Any attempt to curtail these important resources would discontinue the progress we have made, and hurt the most vulnerable among us.”