For Immediate Release:
October 7, 2015
Contact: Alex Rossman (firstname.lastname@example.org) or
Alicia Guevara Warren (email@example.com)
Michigan League for Public Policy, 517.487.5436
Teen births down 40 percent, but much room for improvement
LANSING – Concentrated efforts over the past 20 years have led to a 40 percent drop in Michigan’s teen births, but the annual state teen birth rate remains among the highest of any industrialized country and significant disparities persist in low-income communities and communities of color, according to a new report released today.
In its latest Right Start policy report, Teen births in Michigan, its cities and townships: We cannot afford to slow down progress, the Michigan League for Public Policy highlights the strides made to reduce teen births since 1992 with changes in public policy, funding for evidence-based and results-driven programs, sex education and access to birth control and healthcare. Michigan’s overall annual teen birth rate of 24 births per 1,000 was below the national average of 27 teen births per 1,000 in 2013, and had dropped from 13 percent in 1992 to 7 percent of all births in 2013. Still, American teens are more than twice as likely to have a baby as those in Canada, four times more likely than teens in Germany or Norway and almost 10 times more likely than teens in Switzerland.
“We have far fewer babies born to teen moms today and we should be thrilled with this progress, but we must not slow our efforts,” said Alicia Guevara Warren, Kids Count in Michigan Project Director at the Michigan League for Public Policy. “We still have too many babies born to teen moms—an average of almost 9,000 annually over the last three years—and that’s 9,000 babies who are more likely to live in poverty, struggle academically and suffer from health issues.”
Research shows that teen childbearing has a lifelong impact on both mother and child, along with the state’s economy. Most teen moms do not complete high school, live in poverty, and raise a child alone, making it more difficult to ensure that their children are ready and prepared for school. Children living in poverty also are more susceptible to decreased health outcomes and are at higher risk for abuse and neglect. Michigan taxpayers also bear the cost of teen childbearing at approximately $283 million in 2010, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. On the positive side, the decline in teen births between 1991 and 2010 saved state taxpayers almost half a billion dollars in 2010 alone.
Of particular concern are persistent racial and ethnic disparities with African-American and Hispanic teens having much higher percentages of births and repeat births before age 20 than white teens. Still, an average of 4,440 babies were born to white teens compared to 3,310 to African-American teens and 952 born to Hispanic teens between 2011 and 2013.
Teen pregnancy also disproportionately impacts low-income communities. Of the 69 major population centers in Michigan examined, those in wealthy suburban communities in Oakland, Ottawa and Macomb had the smallest percentages of teen births. However, the communities with the largest percentages of teen births were concentrated in central cities in eight counties across Michigan’s lower half, including Battle Creek, Port Huron, Muskegon, Flint/Flint Township, Jackson, Pontiac, Saginaw, Detroit and Highland Park.
The report details a number of recommendations for policymakers, healthcare providers, communities, schools, parents and caregivers to improve policy and practices, including:
- Supporting funding for evidence-based, results-driven programming to prevent teen pregnancies.
- Targeting resources specifically for youth in foster care and the juvenile justice system, who have higher than average rates of pregnancy.
- Increasing the availability of birth control and ensuring access to affordable contraception.
- Expanding early childhood services, including home visitation programs.
- Promoting youth development programs and supporting programs for at-risk teens.
“There are so many ways that we as a state, community and family can effectively and economically reduce the chances of teen pregnancy and the negative consequences it brings to all of us, including the parents and children who bear the most of it,” Guevara-Warren said. “Teen pregnancy is preventable, and with continued and concentrated efforts, we should see even greater results in another 20 years.”
In addition to the full report, individual profiles of 20 communities can be found at www.mlpp.org/kids-count/michigan-2/2015-right-start. For more information on the League’s Kids Count work, go to www.mlpp.org/kids-count.
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Kids Count in Michigan project is part of a broad national effort to improve conditions for children and their families. Funding for the project is provided by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Detroit-based Skillman Foundation, Steelcase Foundation, Frey Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, United Way for Southeastern Michigan, Battle Creek Community Foundation, Kalamazoo Community Foundation, and John E. Fetzer Fund of the Kalamazoo Community Foundation.
The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.mlpp.org, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way. Right Start is a product of Kids Count in Michigan, a project of the League.