Teen Births Decline!

birth rates by state - 2012I got email from one of our regular contributors yesterday that wanted us to follow Colorado’s example in reducing teenage births in Washington. Since 2008 teenage births (to women age 15-19) have declined almost 40% in Colorado, an amazing statistic. The website this is from (www.popconnect.org) claims this has saved Colorado $41 million in that time. This is not unreasonable – both states pay hospital costs for births to women below about 250% of the federal poverty level through Medicaid.

Colorado provided IUD and implants to women at no or low cost through 68 family planning clinics. The cost of the birth control is very low per-person (particularly with long-lasting examples like implants and IUDs) compared to the cost of a live birth, let alone one with complications. Colorado nets a pretty significant savings.

I told him I didn’t want to do what Colorado is doing. Why would I do that?

The great story here is that teen birth rates have declined precipitously across the nation. The rate of decline can obscure the relative position of the states. You can see the overall decline in the chart on the right.teen birth rate decline

In the map at the top of the post you can see that the two states are close to the same actual birth rate (the same lavender color). Colorado’s rate of decline was steeper than ours, but they started in a much worse position. Washington  was about 20% lower than Colorado in 2008 and dropped about 30% in the time since. We are still lower than Colorado today.

The teen birth rate (per 1000 women age 15-19) in Washington was 23.9 in 2012. In Colorado it was 25.4. I am not interested in getting to the Colorado level.

The chart with these numbers is available in the most current CDC report on this issue, available at the following link: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr63/nvsr63_04.pdf. The comparison data are on page 20.



Author: Ross

I am the Director of the Department of Early Learning for Washington State. I formerly represented the 48th Legislative District in the State House of Representatives, chairing the Appropriations committee and spent many a year at Microsoft.