Sex & Childbearing

How pregnancy, birth, and teen sex trends relate to family structure and religious practice.

Sex & Childbearing Charts

  • Share of abortions, by woman’s age More than half of all abortions are performed on women in their 20s Since 1973, the share of all abortions performed on teenage girls has decreased by nearly half. The shares for women in their 20s, 30s, and 40s and older have increased, particularly for older women.
  • Share of abortions, by race Half of all abortions are performed on minority women A growing share of abortions is performed on minority women. Two in five abortions are performed on African American women and one in five on Hispanic women.
  • Share of abortions, by various characteristics Women most likely to get abortions are poor, never married, have some college About two-fifths of abortions are performed on women whose income is below the poverty line. Two-fifths have some college education, and two-fifths report affiliations with a Protestant denomination. Nearly one-half have never been married.
  • Abortion number, rate, and ratio By most measures, abortions have declined in recent decades After an initial steep increase in abortion in the 1970s, abortion leveled off in the 1980s and generally decreased throughout the 1990s. Since 1990, the number of abortions has decreased by 25 percent, the abortion rate by 29 percent, and the abortion ratio by 20 percent.
  • Teen pregnancy rates, by age group Teen pregnancy rates have declined significantly Since 1990, the pregnancy rate among teens age 15 to 19 has dropped by more than 40 percent. During the same period, the rate among younger teens has dropped by 50 percent and the rate among older teens by 35 percent.
  • Teen pregnancy rates, by race Teen pregnancy rates have declined significantly among all racial groups Since 1990, the teen pregnancy rate has declined by more than 40 percent for all teens. The rate for whites declined by 50 percent, the rate for African Americans by 48 percent, and the rate for Hispanic teens by 27 percent.
  • Teen birth rates, by race Teen birth rates have declined for all racial groups Since 1989, the overall teen birth rate has fallen by 40 percent. The rate decreased by 41 percent among whites, 54 percent among African Americans, 45 percent among Hispanics, 53 percent among Native Americans, and 57 percent among Asian-Americans.
  • Teen abortion rates Teen abortion rates have declined Since 1988, the abortion rate for girls age 15 to 19 has declined by nearly 60 percent. The rate for young teens declined by 65 percent, while the rate for older teens dropped by nearly 55 percent.
  • Teen abortion rates, by race Teen abortion rates have declined for blacks, whites, and Hispanics Since 1990, the abortion rate for teenage girls has dropped by 68 percent among whites, 49 percent among African Americans, and 48 percent among Hispanics.
  • Currently abstinent high-school students, by race For all races, the majority of high school students are currently abstinent While one in two high-school students has always remained abstinent (see Family Facts Chart 250), two in three are currently abstinent.
  • Currently abstinent students, by gender and grade A majority of ninth and 12th graders are currently abstinent Nearly four in five ninth graders and more than one in two 12th graders are currently abstinent.
  • Teen contraceptive use during last sex Teen condom use has increased since the 1990s Nearly seven in 10 sexually active teenage boys report using condoms during last sex, an increase of 23 percent since 1991. During this period, the use of birth control pills among teens did not change significantly.
  • Percent of abstinent high-school students, by race The majority of high-school students have remained sexually abstinent More than one in two high school students report remaining abstinent, an increase of nearly 15 percent since the early 1990s. The trend was most striking among African American students, with a 116 percent increase in those remaining abstinent.
  • Sexually experienced high-school students, by grade By 12th grade, girls are just as likely to be sexually experienced as boys In the 1990s, senior girls were less likely to be sexually experienced, but the gender gap has closed in recent years. In the ninth grade, girls were less likely to be sexually experienced, but by the 12th grade, they were just as likely.
  • Percent of births to unwed mothers, by age group Unwed childbearing has increased dramatically, regardless of mother's age Today, nearly nine in 10 children born to teenage mothers are born outside of marriage - a more than six-fold increase since 1950. The increase among mothers in their early twenties was especially pronounced: a 16-fold jump. The increase among unwed mothers age 30 and older is at least 10-fold.
  • Percent of unwed births by mother's age Most unwed childbearing occurs among females in their twenties About 60 percent of all unwed births are to mothers in their twenties. About 20 percent of unwed births are to teenage mothers.
  • Birth rates by mother's marital status The gap between married and unmarried birth rates has narrowed Since 1960, the rate of births to married mothers has decreased by 45 percent to 85.7 per 1,000 married women. During the same period, the rate of unwed childbirths has increased by 134 percent to 50.5 per 1,000 unmarried women.
  • Birth rates and fertility rates, by race Birth and fertility rates have fallen significantly since 1960 Since 1960, the overall birth rate has fallen 45 percent, and the fertility rate, 46 percent. Since 1990, African-Americans and Hispanics have had the largest declines. Today, rates are highest among Hispanics and lowest among whites.
1-18 of 28