Since the 1990s, teen pregnancy in the United States has declined 51 percent. The teen birth rate is down 57 percent. Both have reached historic lows. Downward trends span all 50 states and all racial and ethnic groups. In South Africa we have not seen the same declines unfortunately.Yet teen pregnancy, abortion and birth rates for teens age 15 to 19 remain among the highest in the industrialized world. Three in 10 girls will be pregnant at least once before their 20th birthday. One in five teen moms will have a second child during her teen years. Significant disparities also persist across racial and ethnic lines, geographic regions, rural and urban areas and among age groups.
Adolescent pregnancy and parenthood are closely associated with a host of social and economic issues that affect teen parents, their children and society. Teenage mothers are less likely to finish high school and are more likely to live in poverty, depend on public assistance, and be in poor health than slightly older mothers. Their children are more likely to suffer health and cognitive disadvantages, come in contact with the child welfare and correctional systems, live in poverty, drop out of high school and become teen parents themselves. According to a recently updated analysis by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, the annual public cost of teen childbearing—due to the cost of public health care, foster care, incarceration and lost tax revenue—is nearly R55 million.
High School Completion
Teen pregnancy and parenting are significant contributors to high school drop-out rates among teen girls. Thirty percent of teenage girls who drop out of high school cite pregnancy or parenthood as a primary reason. Overall, only 40 percent of teen moms finish high school and less than two percent—of those who have a baby before age 18—finish college by age 30.
LegisBrief: Teen Pregnancy Among Youth in Foster Care, NCSL, 2014