Although teenagers of both sexes are becoming sexually active earlier, teenage pregnancy has not increased as a proportion of pregnancies. In 1979, about 27 percent of all teen pregnancies were of teenagers, compared with 28 percent in 1982. However, in the same period, the proportion of second births among teenagers increased because the birth rate of teenagers increased and because the birth rate of older teens decreased. In 1982, about 20 percent of pregnancies in teenagers were of older teens. The birth rate of teenagers is largely dependent on the birth rates of older teens, so changes in the birth rates of younger teens cannot cause changes in the birth rate of teenagers as a whole.
Teen dating and pregnancy are closely related; indeed, studies show that among those sexually active, pregnancies are more likely among those who have dated a boyfriend or her first consensual sexual encounter. This is shown in a study that found that having regular contact with a male by means of dating was positively related to conception, while having experience with sex before one's 15th birthday was negatively related. Also, having had sex was positively associated with conception early in the teens, but the relation progressively weakened as an adolescent entered or passed age 20.
Thus the risk of pregnancy is affected every year by the age at which a girl had sexual intercourse. For example, if a girl marries at age 20, the risk of pregnancy at 20 is 1 in 1,000. If she marries at age 21, the risk of pregnancy at 21 increases from 1 in 1,000 to 1 in 100. Each year, the probability is higher for those teenagers who have had earlier sexual activity.
If a girl marries at age 16, the probability of pregnancy at age 16 is 1 in 2,000. If she marries at age 17, the probability of pregnancy is 1 in 2,500. If the girl marries at age 18, the probability of pregnancy is 1 in 2,160. If she marries at age 19, the probability is 1 in 1,920. And so on.
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