According to a new study from the Guttmacher Institute, the teen pregnancy rate, birth rate and abortion rate each have sharply declined since hitting historic highs in the 1990s. Researchers found that the teen pregnancy rate dropped 51 percent between 1990 and 2010, the teen birth rate declined 41 percent during the same time period and the teen abortion rate dropped a dramatic 66 percent. As the Los Angeles Times notes, the declines were documented across racial and ethnic groups.
“Further research will be needed to understand the behavioral, social and economic factors that are affecting these trends," researchers noted in the study, but they also have a pretty good guess what may be fueling the trend: increased access to sex education and affordable birth control.
Kathryn Kost, the lead author of the study, called the findings “great news.”
“Other reports had already demonstrated sustained declines in births among teens in the past few years; but now we know that this is due to the fact that fewer teens are becoming pregnant in the first place," she said in a statement. “It appears that efforts to ensure teens can access the information and contraceptive services they need to prevent unwanted pregnancies are paying off."
Reproductive rights advocates echoed the sentiment. “The good news is that we know what works to prevent teen pregnancy. Sex education works. Ensuring that teens have access to birth control works,” Leslie Kantor, Planned Parenthood’s vice president of education, said of the report. “When young people have accurate information and resources, they make responsible decisions.”