Fewer teenagers gave birth in 2016 than at any time in our nation’s history, at least as far back as the CDC has been calculating it. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the birth rate of females under the age of 19 is now at 2.3%, which is a record low. The rate has continued to also trend down, and the birth rate decreased 9% from 2015. This decrease will put much less strain on those financial aid programs that help pregnant women, which is great news.
Teenage pregnancy is one of the leading causes of poverty according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). Another major cause is single mothers. In fact, this is sometimes the “chicken and egg” situation, such as does teenage pregnancy lead to financial hardship, or are teen moms who get pregnant more likely to have already lived in poverty. Unfortunately there are no data points to 100% confirm this either way, but it is probably a combination of both.
The CDC has data as of 2016 as well as going back many years. When looking at the 15 to 19 year old age group, there were 20.3 pregnancies per 1000 women, which is how the 2.3% rate is calculated. This would be the most “at risk” group, as a number of those girls would be in high school (or even middle school) and would more than likely drop out of school to take care of their child. So it is great news that this percentage is lower than at any time in the history of the CDC reporting on this data, and in fact when comparing the 2016 data to 2007, the birth rate is over 50% lower!
Without a GED in today’s economy, the employment/lifestyle prospects do not look good at all. This is true for both males and females. In fact in order to have any change at a middle income lifestyle, people really need more than just a GED…they need a college degree and/or specialized skills, such as apprenticeships or certificates. A 16 year old girl dropping out of school and caring for a baby would already be “behind eight ball” when it comes to acquiring those advanced skills that are needed.
Now let’s take a look at a slightly older group, as that is also good news too as it is also at a record low. That will be women age 20 to 24, which will include many college age people or those just graduating. Or of course it can also include those that have not gone on to higher education at all.
In either case, the 20-24 age group is also at a record low. The birth rates decreased 4% year over year to 73.7 births per 1,000 women. This is equivalent to about 7.3%. Once again a decrease in this group is not as critical as some of these women can be settled into careers and/or financially prepared for a new baby. So the early 20s may still be early (at least according to many people) but it is not as extreme as say a teenager. But in either case a decrease in that age group is positive in that it allows the woman to start to build a career, save money, pay debts, etc.
While there are countless reasons for poverty, teenage births is definitely in the mix. It is very challenging (if not impossible) for say a 15 year old to be financially stable at that age, and throw a baby into the mix will almost guarantee it is 100% impossible. Therefore both of these CDC stats being at a record low can only help tackle poverty in this nation.