MTV’s “16 and Pregnant” is often criticized for making teenage pregnancy appear glamorous, but would you believe it actually may have contributed to a decline in the national teenage birth rate?
A new study of Nielsen television ratings and birth records, released by the National Bureau of Economic Research, argues the series and its “Teen Mom” spinoffs reduced the teen birthrate by 6 percent, aiding in a long-term decline that accelerated during the recession.
Melissa Kearney, director of the Hamilton Project, a research group in Washington, and Phillip B. Levine of Wellesley College, led the study, examining birth records and Nielsen ratings, discovering that the rate of teen pregnancy dropped quicker in areas were teens were watching more MTV programming overall.
“The assumption we’re making is that there’s no reason to think that places where more people are watching more MTV in June 2009 [when the show debuted], would start seeing an excess rate of decline in the teen birthrate, but for the change in what they were watching,” Levine tells the New York Times.
In 1991, 62 teen girls out of every 1,000 gave birth. By 2007, that ratio dipped to 42 out of every 1,000. The decline accelerated in recent years, dropping to 29 out of every 1,000 by 2012.
MTV may have been doing good after all. Who knew?
Do you believe the study’s findings about “16 and Pregnant”?