Lack of Access to Contraception May Be Responsible for High Teen Pregnancy Rates

Despite a decrease in teenage pregnancy over the past decade, the United States still has significantly higher rates of teen pregnancy than other developed countries, according to a study conducted by the Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI). The study suggests that lack of information about and access to effective contraceptive methods and other reproductive health services for teenagers may be a factor in the discrepancy between the U.S. and other countries. Compared with teenagers in other countries, including Great Britain, Canada, Sweden, and France, teens in the U.S. are less likely to use oral contraceptives, typically more effective than other forms of birth control. American teens also do not have comparable access to low-cost contraceptives and reproductive health services to teens in the other countries included in the study.

AGI found that social messages about sex in the United States may also contribute to higher rates of teen pregnancy. According to Jacqueline Darroch, Vice President for Research at AGI, “Many in the United States consider adolescents to be too immature to make good judgments about their own behavior and to use contraceptives effectively. However, this study shows us that in countries where youth receive social support, full information, and positive messages about sexuality and sexual relationships, and have easy access to sexual and reproductive health services, they achieve healthier outcomes and low rates of pregnancy, childbearing, abortion, and STDs.”

Teen pregnancy rates in the U.S. are twice as high as in Great Britain and Canada and five times as high as in France and Sweden.


Alan Guttmacher Institute Press Release, 11/29/01