Each year about 1 million teenagers, ages 15 to 19 years old, in the United States become pregnant. Out of those pregnancies about 13 percent are intended. About a third of these teens abort their pregnancies, 52 percent have the child, and 14 percent have a miscarriage. Also out of all of these pregnancies 72 percent are out of wedlock.
The teen pregnancy rate in the United States is more than twice as high as that in any other country, and it is almost 10 times as high as those in Japan or the Netherlands. Teen pregnancy has come into the public debate recently. Teenage pregnancy is a part of 3 social forces. First of all, child poverty rates are high and rising. Second, the number of welfare recipients and costs of public assistance have risen. Finally, there has been an increasing notice that the majority of teens with children are also on welfare. That includes young women, never married women, and women who average long periods of dependency.
The likelihood that teenagers engage in unprotected sex, become pregnant, and give birth is highly correlated with multiple risk factors. These factors include growing up in a single parent family, living in poverty, living in a high poverty neighborhood, having a low attachment to and performance in school, and having parents with a low educational attainment. These factors not only increase the risk of teenage pregnancy, but it also increases many other negative outcomes, such as negative school performance, weak social skills, and low earnings potential. .
Studies have shown that adolescent mothers have high probabilities of raising their children in poverty and relying on welfare and support. More than 40 percent of teenage moms report living in poverty at age 27. These rates are especially high among black and Hispanic adolescent mothers. .
Nearly two-thirds of unwed teenage women report that they never practice contraception or that they use a method inconsistently.