Arkansas had the 4th highest teen birth rate in the United States in 2012. More than 4,300 girls ages 15 through 19 gave birth—approximately 12 per day.
In 2008 (the most recent year for which data are available), the public cost of teen childbearing in Arkansas was $143 million.
The one-page briefs linked below explore teen pregnancy in Arkansas, its impact on education and the economy, and connection to child welfare and juvenile justice. The final brief provides policy options for state legislators to consider to prevent teen pregnancy.
Teen Pregnancy in Arkansas: Just the Facts
While states have experienced significant declines in recent years, teen pregnancy and birth rates in the United States remain among the highest in the industrialized world. In 2012, Arkansas had the 4th highest birth rate in the nation. Across the U.S., nearly three in 10 teens will become pregnant at least once by their 20th birthday. One in five births to girls ages 15 through 19 is not the teen’s first.
Teen Pregnancy in Arkansas: Impact on Education and the Economy
Teen pregnancy and childbearing affect the economic wellbeing of teen parents, their children and the state. Having a child in adolescence makes it more difficult for young people to achieve their educational, career and other life goals and affects the future prospects of their children—at considerable cost to taxpayers.
Teen Pregnancy in Arkansas: Connection to Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice
Children born to teen parents are more likely to enter the child welfare or juvenile justice systems and to become teen parents themselves. Every year, thousands of young Arkansans enter one or both systems. Research shows that, nationwide, the children of teen mothers are twice as likely to be placed in foster care as their peers born to slightly older parents. Sons of teen mothers are 2.2 times more likely to be incarcerated than the sons of mothers aged 20 to 21. The cycle often repeats itself.
Teen Pregnancy in Arkansas: State Policy Options
Given the close relationship between teen pregnancy and educational achievement, economic wellbeing and child welfare, policies that affect one of these issues often influence the others as well. Taking steps to address high teen pregnancy and birth rates in Arkansas has potential to reduce high school dropout rates, improve educational attainment, boost tax contributions through higher earnings, and improve the economy overall. Reducing births to adolescents also can help strengthen families, improve child wellbeing and assist young people in achieving their goals.