The Sexual Activity and Birth-control Use of American Teenagers

B. Levine Phillip

in Risky Behavior among Youths

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print March 2001 | ISBN: 9780226310138
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226309972 | DOI:
The Sexual Activity and Birth-control Use of American Teenagers

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A Gallup poll conducted in May 1999 found that 7 percent of those surveyed reported that youth/teen pregnancy was the most important problem facing the United States today. The concern about teen pregnancy has even led to national goals regarding its reduction. This chapter reviews the theory and empirical evidence regarding teens' sexual activity and use of birth control with an emphasis on the contribution that economic analysis can make. It first presents a series of descriptive statistics designed to document recent trends in these activities for the population as a whole and for racial/ethnic subgroups. It then analyzes two data sets to provide correlational evidence regarding who engages in sexual activity and uses contraception. State-level data are also used to identify whether changes in “prices” affect these activities, where prices are measured by economic conditions, AIDS incidence, welfare generosity, and the restrictiveness of abortion policy. The chapter also looks at the evidence on the effect of teen childbearing on the subsequent well-being of women.

Keywords: teen pregnancy; sexual activity; birth control; contraception; abortion; AIDS; childbearing; well-being; economic conditions; teens

Chapter.  19595 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Economics

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