Teen Pregnancy as a Wicked Problem

Posted on March 15, 2013 by


Policy analysts often refer to multifaceted problems, that are resistant to traditional solutions, as “wicked.” Unwed, teenage pregnancy has grown into one of those. Historically, teenage pregnancy was limited through lack of access and shame. The automobile, the pill, and shifting sexual mores have redefined the phenomenon. Now, we no longer shame unwed, teen moms, we often celebrate them as simply alternative lifestyle choices. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has launched a new advertising campaign targeted at teen mothers and their partners. Here is a poster.

ny daily news babies teen

The ads use economic arguments to dissuade teen sexual behavior and, in this sense, they are powerful. Shame, of course, would urge for alienation or ostracism due to immoral behavior, a sense, at least of the social consequences in addition to, and not necessarily instead of, economic realities. Still, quite interesting. For whatever it might be worth, teenage births, at the national level, have been in decline during the 2000s. Here is a graph from the Centers for Disease Control. Notice the slow decline over the decade across all races. Of course, there are still differences between racial groups. There has been a good bit of speculation about the cause of this decline. As of now, the most likely explanation, according to the CDC, is a reduction in sexual activity among the age group.



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