Power to Decide, the campaign to prevent unplanned pregnancy, believes that all young people should have the opportunity to pursue the future they want, to realize their greatest possibility, and to fully follow their intentions. This includes having the power to decide if, when, and under what circumstances to get pregnant.
The nation has made remarkable progress. Since peaking in the early 1990s, the teen birth rate has fallen 70% overall and 7% in the last year alone. This progress is wide and deep; there has been significant progress in all 50 states and among all racial/ethnic groups.
Progress is not limited to teens. Rates of unplanned pregnancy among women in their 20s are now falling for the first time in many years—a decline of 22 percent among women age 20-24 and 13 percent among women age 25 to 29 between 2008 and 2011.
Even so, not every young person has the power to decide. Rates of teen pregnancy in the U.S. remain far higher than in most developed countries, and among women younger than 30 who experience a pregnancy, more than half report their pregnancy was unintended.
What’s more, stark disparities remain across the country and among young women of color and young women living in poverty. Despite significant declines, the teen birth rate is roughly twice as high among Latina teens (29 births per 1,000) and African American teens (28 births per 1,000) as compared with non-Hispanic white teens (13 births per 1,000).
Note: The data here represent the most recently available from a variety of sources. The most recent year available will vary by indicator.
Martin, J.A., Hamilton, B.E., Michelle, J.K., Driscoll, A.K., & Drake, P. (2018). Births: Final Data for 2017. National Vital Statistics Reports, 67(8), 1-50. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr67/nvsr67_08-508.pdf.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2016). VitalStats [Interactive Data Tables]. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. Retrieved July 2016 from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/vitalstats.htm.
Martin, J.A., Hamilton, B.E., Osterman, M.J.K., Driscoll, A.K., & Mathews, T.J. (2017). Births: Final Data for 2015. National Vital Statistics Reports, 66(1), 1-70. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr66/nvsr66_01.pdf .
Matthews, T.J., & Hamilton, B.E. (2019). Total Fertility Rates by State and Race and Hispanic Origin: United States, 2017. National Vital Statistics Report 68(1), 1-10. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr68/nvsr68_01-508.pdf.
Ventura, S.J., Hamilton, B.E., & Mathews, T.J. (2014). National and State Patterns of Teen Births in the United States, 1940–2013. National Vital Statistics Report 63(4), 1-34. Retrieved fromhttps://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr63/nvsr63_04.pdf.
Kost, K., & Maddow-Zimet, I. (2016). U.S. Teenage Pregnancies, Births and Abortions, 2011: State Trends by Age, Race and Ethnicity. New York: Guttmacher Institute. Retrieved from: https://www.guttmacher.org/report/us-teen-pregnancy-state-trends-2011.
Kost, K., Maddow-Zimet, I., & Arpaio, A. (2017). Pregnancies, Births and Abortions Among Adolescents and Young Women in the United States, 2013: National and State Trends by Age, Race and Ethnicity. New York: Guttmacher Institute. Retrieved from: https://www.guttmacher.org/report/us-adolescent-pregnancy-trends-2013.
Terms & FAQs
Terms and Concepts
- Teen Birth Rate
- The number of births per 1,000 teen girls, age 15-19.
- Teen Pregnancy Rate
- The number of pregnancies per 1,000 teen girls, age 15-19. Pregnancies include births, abortions, and miscarriages.
- Birth Order/ Subsequent Births/Parity
- These statistics measure whether a birth is the mother’s 1st birth or a subsequent birth (that is, a woman’s 2nd birth, 3rd birth, or higher order birth). This excludes births for which birth order was unknown.
- Sexually Active
- A teen who has had sex within the last three months.
- Four or more sexual partners
- Proportion of high school students with four or more lifetime partners.
- Intra-uterine device. This is a long-term, low maintenance, highly effective contraceptive method that is inserted into the uterus. This includes both the non-hormonal copper IUD (Paragard), and the plastic IUD, which includes hormones (Mirena and Skyla).
- Used Any Hormonal or Long Acting Method at Last Sex
- Used birth control pills, or Depo-Provera (or any injectable birth control), NuvaRing (or any birth control ring), Implanon (or any implant), or any IUD.
- Public Cost of Unplanned Pregnancies
- This measures the public costs only for births resulting from unplanned pregnancies.
What is the difference between birth data and pregnancy data?
A pregnancy can result in a live birth, an abortion, or a miscarriage. Pregnancy data include all pregnancies (births, abortions and miscarriages), while birth data reflect only live births. Also, while birth data are based on a near 100% accounting of every birth in the country, pregnancy data incorporate an estimate of miscarriages and abortion numbers that draw on various reporting systems and surveys. Pregnancy data are generally released a year or two after birth data because it takes time to incorporate these different components. The Guttmacher Institute and the National Center for Health Statistics wtihin the Centers for Disease Control both publish teen pregnancy rates. Although their methodologies differ slightly, both rely on largely the same underlying data sources, and their results are very similar (for more detail, see: http://thenationalcampaign.org/resource/fast-facts-teen-pregnancy-united-states).
Where do you get your data?
Our data are compiled from a variety of published sources. Birth statistics are based on vital statistics data published by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Pregnancy statistics are based on published reports from NCHS and the Guttmacher Institute. Statistics on sexual activity and contraceptive use are based on the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey published by the Division of Adolescent and School Health within the CDC. State policy data are routinely summarized from reports published by the Guttmacher Institute. To maximize consistency across states, we rely on these national sources rather than state or local sources. Please refer to Sources for more detailed information.
Do you have any more recent data?
We make every effort to continuously update our data portal whenever new data are released. The most recent year of data available will vary by indicator. In some cases, an indicator may be available for a more recent year in particular states or localities, however we update an indicator only once it’s been released by a national source for all states.
Why don’t you have more recent teen pregnancy data?
Unlike teen birth data, which are routinely released in the following year, there is generally a one to two year lag in the release of teen pregnancy data. Our teen pregnancy data come from publications released by NCHS and the Guttmacher Institute, which combines data from NCHS birth and population data along with the Guttmacher Institute survey of abortion providers to estimate the number and rate of teenage pregnancies. If you need a more recent indicator, consider using teen birth data instead.
But I heard that more recent teen pregnancy data were available.
It’s possible that this may have been a reference to teen birth data. Or it may be that, for a particular state or locality, more recent teen pregnancy data are available. We update our statistics only once new data are available for all states.
Can I get a copy of your dataset?
Our dataset can be directly downloaded from the website. You can access national- and state-level data, however, no data are available below state-level.
How can I open the dataset file?
The easiest way is to double-click the file and select Excel as the program. Select "Open" or "Yes" as you continue through the prompts.
Alternatively, you can rename the file to add the file extension ". csv", and directly open it within excel. (For example, "national-details" becomes "national-details.csv").
If you open the dataset from the File dropdown menu within Excel, you will be directed to use the Text Import Wizard. For Step 1, select "Delimited". For Step 2, uncheck "Tab" and check "Comma". For Step 3, select "General", and then "Finish".
Do the data on sexual activity and contraception represent all teens?
No, these data only represent teens in high school—they do not reflect the experiences of teens who have graduated high school or who left high school for other reasons.
Data on contraceptive use are only measured among sexually active high school students.
What is meant by unplanned pregnancy?
An unplanned pregnancy is a pregnancy that the woman herself reports was not intended at the time of conception—either she reports that she did not want to get pregnant ever, or she reports that she got pregnant earlier than she had intended.
What does “per 1,000 Girls” mean?
“Per 1,000 girls” is a rate, and we often use rates because they provide a more appropriate comparison across different size populations. For example, you might want to compare teen childbearing in California and North Dakota. If you just examined the number of teen births, you would think that teen childbearing was more common in California than North Dakota – 38,606 births compared to 647 births in 2011. However, the rate—because it accounts for the population size—shows us that teen childbearing was remarkably similar in both states – each had a rate of 26.5 births per 1,000 teen girls in 2012.
It is common to confuse a rate per 1,000 with a percentage, but they are not the same. A percentage is measured per 100, while rates are commonly measured per 1,000. To get a sense of the difference, consider that a teen birth rate of 26.5 births per 1,000 teen girls equates to a percentage of 2.65% teen girls having a birth each year. The relative frequency of teen births each year is typically expressed as a rate, not a percentage.
What does "N/A" mean?
N/A refers to data that are not available for a variety of reasons:
- Rates are not calculated when either the numerator or the denominator is not large enough to produce a stable rate.
- Pregnancy rates by race/ethnicity are not available for states where abortion data is not collected by race/ethnicity.
- Some states do not participate in the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS), the source for all of the statistics in the "Sex and Contraception" section.
- Changes in a rate over time are calculated only if rates are available for both years.
- Changes in a state-level rate are not calculated if the data source determined there was no real change.
We follow the guidelines provided in the methodology of each data source. For more information, please refer to the Sources section.
Where can I find additional data?
The Centers for Disease Control, from which we gather many of the statistics presented here, also has available several interactive table generators that are easy to use. You can use these tools to find more detailed statistics, focus on a smaller geographic area, or find data for a more narrowly defined demographic group. Below are a few examples:
- Births: http://wonder.cdc.gov/natality.html
- Population (For use with birth data): http://wonder.cdc.gov/bridged-race-population.html
- Sex and Contraception: http://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/youthonline/App/Default.aspx
* While all other measures refer to teens age 15-19, the proportion of teen births and pregnancies by age are measured for all women younger than 20. When data on births and pregnancies to girls under 15 are not available, this proportion is measured only among 15-19 year olds. These proportions may not add to 100%, due to rounding. Proportions which are less than 0.5% are rounded down to 0%.
ᵻ Births for which birth order is unknown are not included.
§ The national decline in the teen pregnancy rate by race/ethnicity is measured since 1991 rather than 1990 (the peak year) because rates by race/ethnicity are no longer uniformly available for 1990. Also, while the current teen pregnancy rate reflects non-Hispanic black teens, the decline in the teen pregnancy rate is calculated among black teens overall due to data availability; this raises little concern given that rates for black teens overall and for non-Hispanic black teens are nearly identical.
‡ State-level teen pregnancy rates were not uniformly available in 1990, the peak year of the national rate. The decline by state is measured since 1988 for teen girls overall, and by age group. The decline by state by race/ethnicity is measured since 1992 due to data availability. Declines over time for teens overall reflect published revisions made to historical teen pregnancy rates. Such revisions were not published for historical teen pregnancy rates by age or by race/ethnicity, so declines for these groups are based on historical data published earlier by the Guttmacher Institute. This inconsistency raises little concern given that, for teens overall, the original and revised teen pregnancy rates are nearly identical. Even so, the declines by age and by race/ethnicity presented here should be considered an approximation.
Please visit our Sources section for further information.