Teen Pregnancy Down, Women in 40s-Birthrates Up

Journalist Laura Stepp has an interesting piece on teen pregnancy on The Huffington Post. The good news: teen pregnancy is down. The bad news: disturbing stats that don’t jive with this reduction. 

In late 2009, The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy surveyed unmarried 18- to 29-year-olds, and nine out of 10 said they knew all they needed to know to prevent pregnancy.

Stepp states that “yet in an answer to another question, two out of three said they knew little or nothing about birth control pills. One out of three knew little or nothing about condoms…and more than one out of four of the young women and two out of five men said it was at least slightly likely they would have unprotected sex in the next three months.”

How can they say they know all they need to know and so many not know the basics? The jury is out on why it is down, and these kind of responses certainly support not knowing exactly why it has gone down.  Birth rates for women in their 20s and 30s are down as well. However, births for women in their 40s are up.  According to Mike Stobbe of the Associated Press U.S. births fell in 2008 except for birthrates among women in their 40s. He writes, “The birthrate for women in their early 40s rose a surprising 4 percent over the previous year, reaching its highest mark since 1967. The rate for women in their late 40s rose slightly.”

“Women are postponing births to those later ages, above 40,” said James Trussell, director of Princeton University’s Office of Population Research. Well that has been the case for some time so why the increase now? Stobbe thinks it has mostly to do with the economic times, and that by their 40s the biological clock kicks in and says get going no matter what the economics.  While that might be a reason for some, there are lots of other reasons, including their commitment to their careers, not having a co-parent, or not being ready to change their marriage or trade in their current life for another one called parenthood.

In upper class areas of cities and upper class suburbs I notice more women in their 40s with two or three kids and one in the oven. I’d like to know if the total number of children a 40s woman individually has is up as well. Birthrates overall may be just under two, but I wonder if more 40 somethings end up with more than that. I sure see it around–larger families with moms who clearly got started later in life.  What disturbs me–the  larger family justifies the big house, the big Lexus, and buying lots of stuff.  Having larger families whenever you get started feeds our population and consumption problems. And starting later can mean more financial means, so parents can actually afford all the stuff.  More kids and lots of stuff can become part of the overall “showcase of success.”

On both ends, teens and in the 40s, we need stronger reproductive responsibility. We need better sex education for teens.  The birthrates may be down, but they won’t stay there based on the latest survey data.  We need men and women in their 40s to make their decisions regarding how many children they’ll have not just be based on how many they want, but to reflect thinking beyond themselves.

What do you see out there–with teens? With women starting to have children later?

One thought on “Teen Pregnancy Down, Women in 40s-Birthrates Up

  1. I think teens having babies is a bad idea – the majority of adolescents aren’t mature enough to raise a child. I know I wasn’t as an adolescent (not that I tried to put that to the test).

    With regard to women in their 40s, I don’t see anything wrong with them having children if they’re not doing it on the dole (which I presume most aren’t). More reproductive responsibility for teens – absolutely. For over-40s? I don’t see any evidence the majority of them aren’t being reproductively responsible.

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