Why are rates of teen pregnancy so high in America?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Although the rate of teen pregnancy in the United States is very high compared to other rich countries, it is actually at a low point compared to where it has been recently.  In 2009, about 410,000 teens gave birth.  This is a rate of 39.1 children per 1,000 female teens....

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

Although the rate of teen pregnancy in the United States is very high compared to other rich countries, it is actually at a low point compared to where it has been recently.  In 2009, about 410,000 teens gave birth.  This is a rate of 39.1 children per 1,000 female teens.  By contrast, the rate in 1991 was 61.8 per 1,000 in 1991.  The current rate is the lowest ever recorded.

The cause of our high rates (compared to the rest of the world) are controversial.  There are two basic schools of thought.  Liberals argue that teen pregnancies are due to low life chances and lack of access to/knowledge about contraception.  They argue that teens who know they will not be able to go to college or otherwise get a good job will be more likely to have children.  This is especially true if they can't get contraceptives or don't know how to use them.

Conservatives argue that it is the sexualized, "anything goes" nature of our society that causes teen pregnancy.  Teens are inundated with messages about sex and lack the moral compass to resist becoming sexual.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team