Teenage pregnancy is not a racial issue

Black teenage pregnancy: A dynamic social problem

From SAGE Open

While researchers have long set to determine if there is a tie between race and teenage pregnancy, according to this study, equating black teenagers with the problem of teenage pregnancy is a misrepresentation of today’s real­ity. The authors studied data from 1,580 teenage girls and found that while black teens are about twice as likely as white teens to ever be pregnant, pregnancy rates for black minors are in reality declining while rates for minor whites, although sporadic, have increased and from 2005-2006 and even exceeded those of poor minor blacks. “Apparently, teen pregnancy is becoming more of a problem for affluent and poor white minors of late compared with their black counterparts as reflected in their recent rates”.

The paper reveals that poor economic conditions are a true marker of disparity between black and white pregnant teens. When unemploy­ment rates were high, black teenagers were seven times more likely to have ever been pregnant than white teenagers. Conversely, in better economies, when unemployment rates are low, there is almost no difference between reported teenage pregnancies for black and white teenagers. Black teenagers and teenagers from lower-income homes have a greater likelihood of reporting having ever been pregnant than white teenagers or teenagers who come from higher-income homes.


This article examines the relative importance of race and socioeconomic status (SES) in determining whether Black and White teenagers report having ever been pregnant. Data gathered from 1999 to 2006 by the National Center for Health Statistics of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention included 1,580 Black and White females aged 15 to 19 years. Results supported the effects of race and SES, with SES having the stronger effect. However, the effects of race and SES differ when controlling for the state of the economy. No difference between Blacks and Whites was found during better economic times. During 2003-2004, the period of greatest economic stress, race was determined to be the only predictor of teenage pregnancy. In particular, during 2005-2006, the reduction in pregnancy rates for Black minors (15-17) fell below those for White minors within their respective SES categories. Policy implications are discussed in light of these findings.

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Article details
Winters, L., & Winters, P. (2012). Black Teenage Pregnancy: A Dynamic Social Problem SAGE Open DOI: 10.1177/2158244012436563

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