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Teenage pregnancy: High US rates due to poverty, not promiscuity

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PRNewsFoto/The Candie's Foundation

(Read caption) Teenage pregnancy was the focus of a 2010 Candies Foundation campaign featuring Bristol Palin to educate teens about the consequences of pregnancy. A new study links "despair" and poverty to the relatively high US teenage pregnancy rates.

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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.

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