The U.S. National Center for Health Statistics released today its latest report on American teenagers having babies. The results are both happy and strange. American teens are having babies at their lowest rate ever -- and that rate is falling fast. Yet, as Vox discovered, nobody knows why this is happening. One of the steadiest trends in American life is inexplicable.
In addition, the decreases seem to be in teen pregnancy, not just in teen births. Since 1991, the rate of teen abortions has plummeted 59 percent, and the rate of teen pregnancies is down 44 percent. Teenagers seem to be stopping the problem before it starts, as it were.
This is great news. Girls who become pregnant are less likely to finish school and more likely to struggle with money, so staying baby-free opens up opportunities for them. Kids born to teen moms are more likely to be born premature, which, in turn, is associated with health problems -- so a lower U.S. teen pregnancy rate means a greater proportion of Americans having a strong start in life.