National Partnership for Women & Families

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Report highlights urban-rural disparity in teenage birth rate

In rural areas, the teenage birth rate is 63 percent higher than in urban areas, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report published Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times' "Science Now" reports.

Background

For the report, researchers examined trends in birth rates among U.S. teenage women ages 15 to 19 between 2007 and 2015. Researchers used data from the National Vital Statistics System and from the National Center for Health Statistics' Urban-Rural Classification Scheme.

The researchers said they did not know why urban areas had lower teenage birth rates, or why their rates were declining at a faster rate than those of rural counties. According to the Times, the researchers did not assess abortion rates over the same time frame, nor did they study the likelihood of schools in certain counties teaching students about birth control or focusing on abstinence-only education.

Key findings

The overall teenage birth rate declined steadily over the time period surveyed, "Science Now" reports.

However, the percentage decline was greatest in large urban counties. According to the report, in 2015, there were 18.9 births per 1,000 teenage women in counties with larger urban areas. That marks a decline of about 50 percent from 2007, when such regions reported a teenage birth rate of 38.1 births per 1,000 teenage women. Overall, according to the report, urban areas in every state -- and Washington, D.C. -- reported a decline in the teenage birth rate, with 17 states reporting at least a 50 percent drop between 2007 and 2015.

In contrast, rural counties in 2015 reported a teenage birth rate of 30.9 births per 1,000 teenage women, down 37 percent from 2007, when such counties reported a rate of 49.1 births per 1,000 teenage women. Overall, the report found that all 46 states that provided reliable data reported a decline in the rural teenage birth date, with two states -- Colorado and Connecticut -- reporting declines of more than 50 percent between 2007 and 2015. According to "Science Now," New Jersey, Rhode Island and Washington, D.C., do not include data for rural counties.

Meanwhile, in counties with small- and medium-sized cities, the rate was 24.3 births per 1,000 teenage women in 2015, a decline of 44 percent from 43.1 births per 1,000 teenage women in 2007.

The researchers also noted that urban areas reported lower teenage birth rates across racial and ethnic groups. Among white teenage women, the rate was 10.5 births per 1,000 teenage women in urban areas compared with 26.8 per 1,000 in urban areas. Among black teenage women, the rate was 29.1 per 1,000 in urban areas compared with 39.6 per 1,000 in rural areas. Among Latina teenage women, the rate was 31.4 per 1,000 in urban areas compared with 47 per 1,000 in urban areas (Kaplan, "Science Now," Los Angeles Times, 11/6).