Hispanic Teen Birth Rate Plummeting, but Why?

Child Trends noted in a recent research bulletin that while the birth rates for teens of all races have declined in the past five years, the rate for Hispanic girls has done so in a dramatic fashion.

The rate for white teens fell 25 percent from 27.2 per 1,000 to 20.5, the report notes, citing data from the Centers for Disease Control. The rate for black teens fell 29 percent 62 to 43.9.

The rate for Hispanic teens, at a staggering 75.3 births per 1,000 in 2007, dropped 39 percent to 46.3 in 2012. Child Trends offered three potential contributing factors in the precipitous decline:

  • Their declines started later than other racial/ethnic groups. In the mid-1990s, black teens experienced dramatic declines in teen births, while the decline among Hispanics was much more gradual. From 1990 to 2000, the drop in the birth rate among black teens was almost three times that of Hispanics. The recent dramatic declines among Hispanics have led to similar rates for Hispanic and black teens in 2012.
  • The composition of the Hispanic population has changed. An increasing proportion of the Hispanic population is native-born, or born in the U.S. From 2000 to 2011, the number of Hispanics in the U.S. that were native born increased by over 57 percent while foreign-born Hispanics increased by only 33 percent. Because native-born Hispanics have lower teen birth rates than Hispanics born outside the U.S., this change in composition could lead to lower Hispanic birth rates – now and into the future.
  • Evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention programs have targeted and been implemented with Hispanic populations. Although fewer than 20 rigorously-evaluated, random assignment teen pregnancy prevention programs have been evaluated with Hispanic populations,[1] nine programs have shown promise for delaying or reducing sexual activity and/or for improving condom and contraceptive use among Hispanic teens.[2]  And included among these nine are programs that are currently being evaluated in federally-funded, national evaluations: ¡Cuídate!, Draw the Line/Respect the Line, and It’s Your Game: Keep it Real.

Child Trend’s second point suggests that, as the U.S.-born segment of the Hispanic population grows, teen birth rates will continue to decline.

The declining Hispanic teen birth rate may also bode well for future trends on another child welfare subject: the removal of children into foster care. As The Chronicle of Social Change reported earlier this year, U.S. born Latino mothers were twice as likely to be referred for child maltreatment than those born to foreign born mothers; almost three times as likely to have a case of substantiated abuse; and more than four times more likely to enter foster care.
John Kelly is the editor-in-chief of The Chronicle of Social Change
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John Kelly, Editor in Chief, The Chronicle of Social Change
About John Kelly, Editor in Chief, The Chronicle of Social Change 1177 Articles
John Kelly is editor-in-chief of The Chronicle of Social Change. Reach him at jkelly@chronicleofsocialchange.org.