Teenage pregnancy rates in the US have declined dramatically – 40 percent in two decades – but remain among the highest in the developed world. A new study suggests American teens don't have more sex than teens elsewhere, but that they suffer more "despair" due to poverty.
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Why is a teenage girl in Mississippi four times as likely to give birth than a teenage girl in New Hampshire? (And 15 times more likely to give birth than a teen in Switzerland?) Or why is the teen birth rate in Massachusetts 19.6 per 1,000, while it’s 47.7 per 1,000 in Washington, D.C.?
And why, despite a 40 percent drop over two decades, are teen moms still far more common in the US than elsewhere across the developed world?
(And nope, it’s not that American teens have more sex. Many studies have found that US teenagers have less sex than compatriots in Europe.)
The answer, according to a study published today in the Journal of Economic Perspectives, may well lie in social inequality.