Teenage birth rates higher in more religious states

September 16, 2009

Rates of births to teenage mothers are strongly predicted by conservative religious beliefs, even after controlling for differences in income and rates of abortion. Researchers writing in BioMed Central's open access journal Reproductive Health have found a strong association between teenage birth rates and state-level measures of religiosity in the U.S.

Joseph Strayhorn, an adjunct faculty member with Drexel University and the University of Pittsburgh, and Jillian Strayhorn used data from the Pew Forum's US Religious Landscapes Survey and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to evaluate the state level effects of belief on teen birth rates. Joseph Strayhorn said, "The magnitude of the correlation between religiosity and teen birth rate astonished us. Teen birth is more highly correlated with some of the religiosity items on the Religious Landscapes Survey than some of those items are correlated with each other".

The religiosity of a state was determined by averaging the percents of respondents who agreed with the eight most conservative opinions possible in the Religious Landscapes Survey, such as 'There is only one way to interpret the teachings of my religion' or 'Scripture should be taken literally, word for word'. According to Strayhorn, "Our findings by themselves do not, of course, permit causal inferences. But, if we may speculate on the most probable explanation, we conjecture that religious communities in the US are more successful in discouraging the use of contraception among their teenagers than they are in discouraging sexual intercourse itself".
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Notes to Editors

1. Religiosity and teen birth rate in the United States
Joseph M Strayhorn and Jillian C Strayhorn
Reproductive Health (in press)

During embargo, article available here: http://www.reproductive-health-journal.com/imedia/1545549611271544_article.pdf?random=414460

After the embargo, article available at the journal website: http://www.reproductive-health-journal.com/

Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are available free of charge, according to BioMed Central's open access policy.

Article citation and URL available on request at press@biomedcentral.com on the day of publication.

2. Reproductive Health is an open access, peer-reviewed online journal focusing on all aspects of human reproduction. Reproductive Health is the official journal of the Geneva Foundation for Medical Education and Research (GFMER), a WHO collaborating centre in education and research in human reproduction. Reproductive Health is also affiliated to the International Association for Maternal and Neonatal Health (IAMANEH).

3. BioMed Central (http://www.biomedcentral.com/) is an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the open access publishing model. All peer-reviewed research articles published by BioMed Central are made immediately and freely accessible online, and are licensed to allow redistribution and reuse. BioMed Central is part of Springer Science+Business Media, a leading global publisher in the STM sector.

BioMed Central

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