Via the Incidental Economist a fascinating study from the Journal of Adolescent Health that attempts to decompose the reasons behind the continual slow down in the teen birth rate. Teenagers are having just as much sex at the end of the study period as at the beginning. They are just having much smarter and safer sex.
They found that that sexual activity didn’t decline. What changed was contraceptive use. Use of the pill went up from 26% to 35%, as did IUDs (1.3% to 2.7%), condoms (49% to 56%), and even withdrawal (15% to 20%). The use of multiple methods increased from 23% to 34%. The percentage of kids reporting no contraceptive use dropped from 20% to 13%.
This led to the PRI dropping 5% every year from 2007 to 2012. Further, about 94% of the decline in the pregnancy risk index was attributable to contraceptive use.
I would love to see a follow-up once the 2014/2015 policy years are included as that is when IUD adaption has significantly increased. Given people tools to minimize risk, teaching them how to use those tools to minimize risk leads to lower risk.
And now I’m double dipping on The Incidental Economist and teen pregnancy prevention programs as they also flag a recent study on the baby simulator doll program:
A number of people, and programs, have decided that one way to combat teen pregnancy is to teach teens how hard it is to raise a baby. They sometimes force kids to “couple up” in school and pretend they have a child. Sometimes, they even give them a doll – one that cries, wakes up at night, etc. – to bring home the point…
And… more girls in the intervention group got pregnant. In the intervention group, 8% of the girls had at least one birth, compared to 4% of those in the control group. Even after adjusting for potential confounders, the intervention group had a more-than one-third higher relative risk of pregnancy in the teenage years.
So not only are those baby-doll-simulators likely a waste of time and money, they may be leading to an increase in teenage pregnancy.
Scaring them straight seldom works.
Kids these days… how will us old(er) people complain about the next generation when they are way less stupid than my cohort?
Well at least we had snow to walk through uphill both ways…..