National and State Patterns of Teen Births in the United States, 1940–2013

Teen childbearing in the United States has been declining for more than half a century. Except for a brief but steep increase in teen birth rates from 1986 to 1991 and smaller upturns during 1969–1970, 1979–1980, and 2005–2007, birth rates for U.S. teenagers have fallen since 1957. The birth rate in 2013, 26.6 births per 1,000 teenagers aged 15–19, was less than one-half of the rate in 1991 (61.8 per 1,000) and less than one-third of the rate in 1957 (96.3), when the United States rate was at its peak. The overall reductions in teen birth rates have been shared across all age groups, race and ethnicity groups, and states.

A new NCHS report presents trends from 1940 through 2013 in national birth rates for teenagers, with particular focus on the period since 1991. The percent changes in rates for 1991–2012 and
the for 2007–2012 are presented for the United States and for states. Preliminary data for 2013 are shown where available.

Key Findings from the Report:

  • Teen childbearing has been on a long-term downward trend, with only four exceptions since peaking in 1957. The rate in 1957 was 96.3 births per 1,000 women aged 15–19. The rate dropped almost one-third to 65.5 in 1969.
  • The rate then increased 4% in 1969–1970 (68.3) before resuming a decline that continued until 1979–1980 and again until 1986 (50.2). From 1986 through 1991, the birth rate rose 23%. Since 1991, the rate has fallen 57% and the decline has been continuous except for a 5% rise during 2005–2007.
  • The pace of decline accelerated from 2007 forward, with the rate reaching 26.6 per 1,000 in 2013, a drop of 36% from 2007.
  • The 2013 rate is less than one-third of the 1957 peak rate.

 

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