Although teen pregnancy has loomed large in American culture in recent decades, rates of teen births, pregnancy, and even abortion have fallen precipitously. Public health experts have cheered this trend, given the links between teen pregnancy and adverse outcomes for both mother and child. But the general decline in childbirth among a younger cohort may carry over into later years, reinforcing America’s record-low fertility rate.
The new Pew study breaks down the exact figures underlying the teen pregnancy drop. As of 2018, there were about 17 babies born per 1,000 girls aged 15 to 19 in the United States. That number is the lowest figure on record, with rates more or less continuously declining since 1990.
Teen birth rates peaked soon after the Baby Boom, reaching 96.3 babies per 1,000 teen girls in 1957. They declined from there, until plateauing. Rates rose slightly through the 1980s. Then in 1991, they began plummeting again: from 61.8 per 1,000 girls in 1991 to 42.5 in 2007, to 17.4 in 2018.