The annual Mercyhurst Civic Institute report on Teen Pregnancies and Births, released in early June, shows a continuing decline in the rate of teen births in Erie County.
The reason may be simple.
“Although there is no definitive proof, the decline shown in this year’s report may be due in part to the attention the problem received during the 1990s,” said Amy Danzer, research policy specialist with the Civic Institute.
“The creation of The Erie County Network for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention (ECNAPP) came about in 1999 as a result of the Erie County Policy and Planning Council determining that the extremely high rate of births to single teens in Erie County was unacceptable and that the best way to increase the well-being for children in the county was to reduce the number of babies born to unmarried teens.”
The goal of the Civic Institute’s report is to provide unbiased and accurate analysis of teen birth data, and to do so, Institute researchers review Erie County data on teen’s sexual experience, pregnancy and births. The Institute then examines data about teen births that is provided for the nation and the state.
Because the data is available for comparable cities and counties, the Institute can compare and contrast local statistics with both similar areas and national data.
Birth data is broken down by marriage or single, by age, by race and by teens having their second (or more) birth. Analysis of that data revealed several interesting points:
§ The Erie County rate of 36.3 births per 1,000 females aged 15 to 19 is a 30.5 percent decline from 1994 high and compares very favorably to the U.S. decline of 21.9 percent and the 2000 rate of 48.5.
§ Rates for unmarried teens fell 27.3 percent compared to a 14.7 percent decline nationwide.
§ The Erie County rate of births to 18 and 19 year olds is 35 percent lower than the national average.
§ Although the Erie County rate for black teens fell 42.4 percent over the 1990’s, it is still 28.6 percent higher than the national average.
§ Over 23 percent of births to teens in Erie County are not their first births compared to 20.6 percent for the nation.
The report is utilized by local organizations that work in the area of teen pregnancies specifically or those attempting to reduce risk-taking by teens in general. The groups often rely on the Civic Institute reports and the data contained within those reports when they write grants.
In addition, the Civic Institute and the Erie County Health Department will use the report to compare Erie County with the state and nation.