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.