Teen births have fallen by almost half among two of the most at-risk groups — Hispanic and black teens — in the past decade, according to new numbers out from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That mirrors a major decline in teen birth rates across the country, down more than 40 percent since 2006.
Still, in 2014, teen births were twice as common for Hispanic and black teens compared with white teens.
It’s not clear what, exactly, has played a part in the tumbling rates, but CDC officials say the numbers still aren’t as low as they’d like to see them. Teenage pregnancy and childbirth is estimated to cost American taxpayers $9 billion a year, according to the CDC. And only half of teen mothers earn a high school diploma or equivalent degree by the time they turn 22, which causes concern among public health officials about the long-term impact of teen births, too.
Other findings from the report:
- In 2014, there were 24.2 births per 1,000 girls between ages 15 and 19. That’s down from 42 births per 1,000 teenage girls in 2006.
- Racial minorities have had higher teen birth rates than white teens for decades. But in the past decade, teen births have declined 51 percent among Hispanic teens and 44 percent among black teens, which significantly narrows the racial gap.
- The birth rate among white teens declined 35 percent from 2006 to 2014.
- There were noticeable racial disparities on the state level, despite the narrowing gap nationwide. For instance, though the national rate of teen black births to teen white births is around 2 to 1, in New Jersey it’s nearly 6 to 1, and in Washington D.C. it’s 24 to 1.
- In counties with high rates of teen births, average education levels and family income were lower than in counties with low teen birth rates. These counties were largely clustered in southern and southwestern states.