16 and Pregnant May Have Stopped 20,000 Teen Pregnancies: Study
A new study suggests that MTV’s “16 and Pregnant” franchise may have prevented about 20,000 births to teenage mothers in 2010, the year after it debuted.
On Monday, the National Bureau of Economic Research will present a paper called “Media Influences on Social Outcomes: The Impact of MTV’s ’16 and Pregnant’ on Teen Childbearing.”
Its authors write, “We find that 16 and Pregnant led to more searches and tweets regarding birth control and abortion, and ultimately led to a 5.7 percent reduction in teen births in the 18 months following its introduction.”
That 5.7 percent reduction in births to teenage mothers would amount to approximately 20,000 fewer births in 2010.
Researchers analyzed birth records and Nielsen ratings and determined that the rate of teenage pregnancy declined faster in places where teens watched more MTV programming.
The study notes that during the show’s broadcast, online searches and social media activity concerning contraception rose.
While the authors acknowledge that teen birth rates dropped broadly during the period, they theorize that “16 and Pregnant” (and the “Teen Mom” spinoffs) helped to educate young people about the difficulties of early pregnancy, acting as a deterrent.