The United States has made extraordinary progress in reducing rates of teen pregnancy and birth. Since the early 1990s, the teen pregnancy rate has declined 39 percent and the teen birth rate has declined by one-third. In fact, few social problems have improved quite as dramatically over the past decade plus. The most recent news on this front, however, has not been positive. After 14 straight years of overall decline in the teen birth rate, and declines in all 50 states and among all racial/ethnic groups, the teen pregnancy rate increased three percent between 2005 and 2006 and the teen birth rate increased five percent between 2005 and 2007. The key question is, of course, what is causing this recent increase? Based on the limited data that are available, the observations of those who work directly with teens nationwide, and researchers who study the issue, there are several clues that help explain the recent increase.
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