The latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report is out, with a report on teen birth rates in the U.S. The press release announces, “U.S. Teen Birth Rate Fell to Record Low in 2009.” (The report has information about birth control, virginity, and sex education as well.)
The CDC’s vital signs pamphlet still calls the rates “unacceptably high,” and notes they are “up to 9 times higher than in most other developed countries.”* Within the U.S. we have about a 4-to-1 ratio in teen birth rates between the states with highest and lowest rates, as you can see from this map:
Teen birth rates are the number of births per 1,000 women ages 15-19.
For comparison, using the U.N. Demographic Yearbook, I made a map of Europe using the same color scale as the CDC’s state map, though I had to add a few categories. (If you don’t know which countries are which, why not take a little time to learn them?)
Light blue, 31-39; White, 16-29; Pink, 10-16; Red, 0-10; Black, unavailable.
You can see the high rates in the Eastern European countries of Russia, Ukraine, Romania and Bulgaria, with teen birth rates in the range of our l0w-middle states (like California). The high-middle European countries — including Britain, Ireland, the Baltics and some Central European countries — are comparable to our lowest-rates states (New England, etc.). Then the rest of Europe is off the U.S. chart, down to 4.3 in Switzerland.
Addendum: The UN has a longer list of country teen birth rates here. The US ranks 95th out of 207 countries for 2007 on that list.
*It’s a little strange that teen births are considered a problem by definition, even though some of these teens are married, which should make their births officially not a problem.