MTV’s ’16 and Pregnant’ led to fewer teen births?
The next time your teen turns on MTV’s “16 and Pregnant,” avoid any disparaging remarks.
The show may actually encourage him or her to practice safer sex, according to a new study.
The study, released Monday by the National Bureau of Economic Research, says “16 and Pregnant” ultimately led to a 5.7% reduction in teen births in the 18 months after its premiere on TV.
This would account for about one-third of the overall decline in teen births in the United States during that period, researchers Melissa Kearney and Phillip Levine concluded.
In 2011, a total of 329,797 babies were born in the United States to girls between the ages of 15 and 19; that’s a rate of 31.3 births per every 1,000 girls, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC does not have rates available for 2012; Kearney and Levine say that number dropped to 29.4 per every 1,000 that year.
The declining teen birth rate is a well-documented trend in the United States. Between 1991 and 2008, the rate dropped steadily at an average of about 2.5% a year. In the past four years, it has dropped even more dramatically at a rate of about 7.5% per year.