Teen pregnancy rate hits new low

Teenage pregnancy rates have hit new low, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Across all racial groups, the birth rate declined by 25 percent overall from 2007 to 2011, the CDC said in a new report. Birth rates for teenagers ages 15 to 17 years was 15.4 per 1,000, 29 percent lower than in 2007, while the rate for teenagers 18 and 19 years old fell to 54.1 per 1,000, which is 25 percent lower than in 2007.

. . . Among different racial and ethnic groups, declines from 2010 to 2011 for 15- to 19-year-olds ranged between 6 percent and 8 percent for white, black, American Indian and Asians. The birth rate for Hispanic teenagers fell 11 percent from 2010 to 2011 and dropped 34 percent from 2007 to 2011, the largest decline of any population group, the CDC said.

Births for teens 15 to 19 dropped 10 percent from 2010 to 2011, to 329,797, the fewest since 1946.

Girls are waiting longer to have sex, Ed Week notes. When they’re sexually active, more teens are using highly effective birth control methods.

What's poverty?

Child well-being improved in most categories, reports the Casey Foundation’s Kids Count Data Book. However, the nation needs a new way of calculating the poverty rate, the report said.

The report documented improvements since 2000 in the infant mortality rate, child death rate, teen death rate, high school dropout rate, and teens not in school and not working. Four areas have worsened: low-birthweight babies, children living with jobless or underemployed parents, children in poverty, and children in single-parent families.

Next year’s report, which will include post-recession data, is expected to show more children living in poverty.  However, the poverty formula, developed in the ’60s, is “thoroughly outdated,” Casey concluded.

It calculates the cost of a basic grocery budget for a given family size and multiplies the total by three because food, in the ’60s, represented one-third of a typical family budget.

The formula has not been recalculated since then even though, according to Casey, food now accounts for only about one-seventh of a typical family’s budget.

The formula takes no account of child care, transportation, health insurance, and certain government benefits such as food stamps and housing vouchers. Also — except for Alaska and Hawaii — it does not reflect regional differences in the cost of living.

After years of decline, the teen birth rate rose from 2005 to 2006. However, recessions often curb the birth rate. Births are down in Silicon Valley, except for mothers over 40.