Apr 29, 2016 3:30 pm

Why is the teen birth rate falling?

U.S. teen birth rate has fallen dramatically over time

The teen birth rate in the U.S. is at a record low, dropping below 25 births per 1,000 teen females for the first time since the government began collecting consistent data on births to teens ages 15-19, according to a new report from the National Center for Health Statistics.

Nonwhite and younger teens have led the way in declining birth rates in recent years. Since the most recent peak in 2007, the birth rate among all teens has dropped by 42%. The declines among Hispanic (50%), Asian or Pacific Islander (48%) and black (44%) teens have outpaced this national average, while the decline among white teens (36%) has been somewhat more modest. Birth rates among younger teens ages 15-17 have also fallen faster – dropping by 50%, compared with a 39% decline among older teens ages 18 and 19.

Birth rates among nonwhite teens declined more than among whitesAlthough the teen birth rates among blacks and Hispanics have fallen faster than among whites, the racial disparity in teen childbearing remains wide.  Hispanic and black teens ages 15-19 had birth rates at least twice as high as the rate among white teens in 2014. Asians and Pacific Islanders had the lowest teen birth rate – less than half the rate among whites.

The peak for teen births was 96.3 per 1,000 in 1957, in the midst of the Baby Boom, after having risen dramatically following the end of World War II. But the composition of teen mothers has changed drastically since then. Back in 1960, most teen mothers were married – an estimated 15% of births to mothers ages 15-19 were to unmarried teens. Today, it has flipped: 89% of births are to unmarried mothers in that age group.

The teen birth rate has been on a steep decline since the early 1990s, and that trend accelerated during the recession of 2007-09 and the years following, reversing a brief uptick that began in 2006. What’s behind the recent trends? One possible factor is the economy: A Pew Research Center analysis tied the declining birth rate to the flailing economy. And birth rates for teens fell faster than they did for all females ages 15-44 from 2007 to 2014 (42% and 9% declines, respectively).

What else is contributing to the decline in teen birth rates? Less sex, use of more effective contraception and more information about pregnancy prevention.

Abortion, pregnancy rates have declined among teenagers in the U.S.For one thing, there has been a significant decline in the percentage of never-married teenage females who report that they have ever had sex, from 51% in 1988 to 44% in 2011-13, according to National Survey of Family Growth data. Furthermore, among never-married teens who have had sex, 79% of girls and 84% of boys used a contraceptive method the first time they had sex.

While the overall share of teens using contraception at first sex has not changed significantly, the use of some forms of highly effective contraceptive methods is increasing. The share of sexually active teen girls who have used emergency contraception (e.g., the morning-after pill) rose from 8% in 2002 to 22% in 2011-13. And an NCHS analysis of the roughly 600,000 low-income teens who use a Title X Family Planning program for contraception found that the use of long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs), such as IUDs and implants – which are considered more effective than other means of contraception – rose from 0.4% in 2005 to 7.1% by 2013.

Pregnancy prevention programs and messages directed to teens may also have played a role. A 2014 Brookings report found that the MTV programs 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom, reality TV shows that follow the struggles of teen mothers, may have contributed to up to a third of the decline in teen births from June 2009, when they began airing, through the end of 2010.

It’s worth noting that birth rate figures only include live births, and do not account for miscarriages, stillbirths or abortions. In 2009, the estimated pregnancy rate for teens was 65.3 pregnancies per 1,000 females ages 15-19 (36.4 among those ages 15-17 and 106.3 among those ages 18-19).

But teen pregnancy rates have fallen, too. Looking at data reaching back to 1976, the pregnancy rate peaked among teens ages 15-19 in 1990, at 116.8, and had fallen 44% by 2009. The abortion rate among females ages 15-19 has also fallen over roughly the same time period – from 43.5 per 1,000 female teens in 1988 to 16.3 in 2009. Of the roughly 700,000 pregnancies among teens in 2009, about 58% are estimated to have ended in live births, 25% in abortions and 17% in miscarriages or stillbirths.

Note: This post was originally published on April 21, 2014, and updated on April 29, 2016.

Topics: Birth Rate and Fertility, Teens and Youth

Apr 28, 2016 11:30 am

Census Bureau hopes to use data from other government agencies in 2020

Government Records
The Census Bureau is looking into using information contained in individual income tax and Social Security records to improve its operations. (Getty Images)

Anyone who has filed a U.S. tax return, applied for a Social Security number or signed up for Medicare has given personal data to the government. So when the Census Bureau counts the American public, can it use the information that other federal agencies have already collected?

The Census Bureau would very much like to do that. For the 2020 census, the bureau is testing whether government records could supply basic details about 6 million hard-to-count households, and be used to identify another 6 million vacant homes so door-to-door enumerators can save time by skipping them during follow-up on homes that did not send in census forms. The agency also is researching whether such records could be a substitute for some questions, especially about sensitive topics such as income, on the American Community Survey, which replaced the census long form in 2010.

The Census Bureau has been studying how to make use of well-vetted government records for decades, and today does so in a limited way – to count overseas military and federal employees in the decennial census, for example. But the agency now says it is serious about doing more, and acting quickly. One reason is that it is under pressure from Congress to hold down costs for the 2020 census. Another is that it has promised to look into dropping questions from the American Community Survey that have provoked complaints from respondents.

“We’ve been talking about it for a long time as the next big frontier, and now we have no choice,” said Joseph Salvo, a New York City planning official who co-chaired a recent National Academies of Sciences workshop that included a session on how the American Community Survey might use other government or commercial data to supplement its data collection. Read More

Topics: Federal Government, U.S. Census

Apr 27, 2016 7:00 am

Israeli Arabs more optimistic about two-state solution than Arabs living in the Palestinian territories

Israeli Arabs more optimistic about a two-state solutionThe idea that an independent Palestinian state can peacefully coexist with Israel has been the cornerstone of many Arab-Israeli peace initiatives in recent years. But while significant shares of Israeli Arabs and Jews are optimistic about the prospect of a two-state solution, the Arabs currently in the Palestinian territories are less so.

Half of Israeli Arabs (citizens and residents living within the boundaries of Israel, as defined in the 2008 census conducted by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics) say it is possible for Israel and an independent Palestinian state to coexist peacefully together, according to 2015 Pew Research Center surveys. By contrast, less than one-third of Arabs living in the Palestinian territories say a two-state solution is possible (28%). Jewish public opinion in Israel is divided on this question – 43% say a two-state solution is possible, while 45% disagree. Read More

Topics: Jews and Judaism, Middle East and North Africa, Muslims and Islam, Wars and International Conflicts

Apr 26, 2016 1:30 pm

A closer look at Jehovah’s Witnesses living in the U.S.

Jehovah's Witnesses in the U.S.

The death of superstar musician Prince has prompted many reflections on his life – including his religious faith. Prince, who was raised as a Seventh-day Adventist, became a Jehovah’s Witness as an adult and attended services in his home state of Minnesota.

Jehovah’s Witnesses, who make up just less than 1% of U.S. adults, are known for their door-to-door proselytism. But members of this denomination, which has its origins in 19th-century America, are also unique in many other ways. Here are a few facts about Jehovah’s Witnesses in the United States today, based on Pew Research Center’s Religious Landscape Study:

Read More

Topics: Christians and Christianity, Religion and Society, Religious Beliefs and Practices

Apr 25, 2016 7:00 am

Millennials overtake Baby Boomers as America’s largest generation

FT_16_04.25_generations2050Millennials have surpassed Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest living generation, according to population estimates released this month by the U.S. Census Bureau. Millennials, whom we define as those ages 18-34 in 2015, now number 75.4 million, surpassing the 74.9 million Baby Boomers (ages 51-69). And Generation X (ages 35-50 in 2015) is projected to pass the Boomers in population by 2028.

The Millennial generation continues to grow as young immigrants expand its ranks. Boomers – whose generation was defined by the boom in U.S. births following World War II – are older and their numbers shrinking as the number of deaths among them exceeds the number of older immigrants arriving in the country.
Read More

Topics: Baby Boomers, Generations and Age, Millennials, U.S. Census

Apr 22, 2016 7:00 am

For Earth Day, here’s how Americans view environmental issues

The 1970s were an important era for American environmentalism. Congress passed the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act, President Nixon established the Environmental Protection Agency, and the nation’s first Earth Day – created by Democratic Sen. Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin – was held on April 22, 1970.

Forty-six years later, Earth Day has expanded across the globe, with dozens of countries holding events ranging from launching new recycling programs to rallies addressing climate change.

Here are five findings related to the public’s views about the environment:

1Should the country do whatever it takes to protect the environment? Most Americans say yes, but party divisions grow widerOverall, Americans support protecting the environment, but there are deep partisan divides on the issue. Fully 74% of U.S. adults said the “country should do whatever it takes to protect the environment,” compared with 23% who say “the country has gone too far in its efforts to protect the environment,” according to newly released data from a Pew Research Center survey conducted in March.

Democrats and those who lean to the Democratic Party have consistently been more likely than Republican and Republican leaners to agree that the country should do whatever it takes to protect the environment, but Republican support has decreased since 2004 and the gap between the two groups has widened to 38 percentage points today.  Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Energy and Environment, Federal Government, Political Issue Priorities, U.S. Political Parties

Apr 21, 2016 9:55 am

Texas immigrant population now rivals New York’s in size

Texas, New York now tied in immigrant population sizeThe immigrant population in Texas has grown rapidly in recent decades, reaching 4.5 million in 2014. That puts Texas in a tie with New York for the second largest state immigrant population by size.

New York had the largest immigrant population of any state from 1850 to 1970, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.

But in the 1970s, things changed as immigration from Mexico began to surge. By 1980, California overtook New York as the state with the most immigrants, after more than doubling its immigrant population in a decade. In 2014, California’s immigrant population was the largest in the country, numbering 10.5 million – more than twice the size of New York’s and Texas’. Read More

Topics: Immigration, Immigration Trends, Population Geography, Population Trends

Apr 21, 2016 7:00 am

World’s centenarian population projected to grow eightfold by 2050

The world’s centenarian population projected to grow rapidly The world was home to nearly half a million centenarians (people ages 100 and older) in 2015, more than four times as many as in 1990, according to United Nations estimates. And this growth is expected to accelerate: Projections suggest there will be 3.7 million centenarians across the globe in 2050.

While centenarians make up a small share of the world’s older population, their proportion is growing. In 1990 there were 2.9 centenarians for every 10,000 adults ages 65 and older around the world. That share grew to 7.4 by 2015 and is projected to rise to 23.6 by 2050.

Since 1990, the population of those ages 80 and older – the oldest segments of the 65-plus population – has grown more rapidly than that of the younger segments, those ages 65-79. This faster growth is driven by improved life expectancies among those 65 and older. Read More

Topics: Demographics, Generations and Age, Population Geography, Population Projections, Population Trends

Apr 20, 2016 10:00 am

Rise in English proficiency among U.S. Hispanics is driven by the young

English proficiency up among young Hispanics since 2000English proficiency among U.S. Latinos has risen over the past 14 years, an increase almost entirely due to the growing share of younger Hispanics born in the U.S., according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data.

When asked about their language use and English proficiency in 2014, some 88% of Latinos ages 5 to 17 said they either speak only English at home or speak English “very well,” up from 73% who said the same in 2000.

And among Latinos ages 18 to 33, the share who speak only English at home or say they speak English “very well” increased from 59% to 76% during this time.

Increasing English use by young Hispanics has been driven in large part by demographics. More Hispanics in the U.S. today were born in the country than arrived as immigrants (the number of newly arrived immigrants from Latin America has been in decline for a decade). For example, 65% of Latinos in 2014 were U.S. born, compared with 60% in 2000. One consequence of this trend is that a greater share of young Hispanics ages 5 to 17 are growing up in households where only English is spoken – 37% in 2014 compared with 30% in 2000.  Read More

Topics: Hispanic/Latino Demographics, Immigration Trends, Language

Apr 20, 2016 7:00 am

What different styles of head coverings say about Israeli Jewish men

What you wear can say a lot about who you are and what you believe. In Israel, for instance, the type of kippa – or lack thereof – worn by an Israeli Jewish man often is strongly correlated with his religious identity as well as some political views.

These skullcaps (also known by their Yiddish name, yarmulkes), are regularly worn by about one-third of Israel’s Jewish men, especially the religiously observant. They come in several basic styles, with some more favored by particular Jewish subgroups than others.

What different types of kippot say about Israeli Jewish men

Among Israeli men who say they usually wear a large black fabric kippa, a majority identify as Haredi (also known as ultra-Orthodox) Jews (58%). By contrast, most of those who wear a black crocheted or knitted kippa (59%) say they are Masorti (“traditional”) Jews. And small black fabric kippot (the plural of kippa) as well as colored or patterned crocheted kippot are particularly common among Dati (“religious,” sometimes called “modern Orthodox”) Jews. Read More

Topics: Jews and Judaism, Middle East and North Africa, Religion and Society, Religious Beliefs and Practices