To Reduce Poverty among Hispanics, Aim for Teen Birth Rate, Report Says

December 9, 2013

BETHESDA, Md.—Poverty rates for families with children have risen during the recession, and rates among Hispanics are particularly high—about 25 percent overall. Reducing the teen birth rate among Hispanics might be an effective poverty reduction strategy for this group, according to a new study by Child Trends, especially if educational success is a part of the strategy.

The study found that, despite perceptions that Hispanic teens want to get pregnant, most do not want to become parents during their teenage years. According to the report, most interventions aimed at Hispanic teen pregnancy reduction assume that Latino teens need help understanding that teen pregnancy will hamper their goals, but this is not the case.

“These teens understand the value of education and the impact that having children would have on their being able to complete school,” said Kristin Anderson Moore, senior scholar at Child Trends and a leader of the study. “A critical focus for programs needs to be getting teens to align their sexual and contraceptive behavior with their educational and life goals.”

Since 2000, the Hispanic population in the U.S. has grown by 43 percent, accounting for more than half of the growth in the total population. “Our goal with this research is to help practitioners develop effective, evidence-based strategies for reducing early childbearing among Hispanics, as a route to reducing poverty,” said Lina Guzman, Child Trends’ co-program area director for reproductive health and family formation, and a study author. “Given the size of the Hispanic population in the U.S., the effect of these strategies on poverty reduction could be substantial.”

This summer, the CDC announced that Hispanic teen birth rates had fallen by an average of 34 percent between 2007 and 2011. Despite this, more than 40 percent of Hispanic girls become pregnant before age 20.

The report and associated publications include a number of findings meant to guide practitioners and policymakers in their work. These include:

  • There are relatively few intervention programs for Hispanic teens that are culturally relevant and provide the kind of programming that will reduce teen childbearing.
  • Teens who communicate openly and effectively with parents are more likely to be older when they first have sex and more likely to use contraception.
  • Hispanic teens are more embarrassed to talk about condoms with a new partner than are black or white teens, but teens who discuss birth control with sexual partners are more likely to use contraception.
  • Rates of contraceptive use among Hispanic teens are relatively low.
  • Programs should provide information on effective methods of contraception that teens might not be getting at home.

This research, including analysis of national data, focus groups and interviews with Hispanic teens and parents, interviews with program designers and practitioners, and a comprehensive review of research and evaluation studies, was funded by The JPB Foundation.

The report and associated briefs, along with infographics on parent/teen communication and contraceptive use among Hispanic teens, are available at


About Child Trends

Child Trends, based in Bethesda, Md., is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research center that provides valuable information and insights on the well-being of children and youth. For more than 30 years, policymakers, funders, educators and service providers in the U.S. and around the world have relied on our data and analyses to improve policies and programs serving children and youth. Our work is supported by foundations; federal, state and local government agencies; and by nonprofit organizations. Child Trends has more than 100 employees and annual revenue of about $13 million.