The Issue

Over the last 20 years, the teen birth rate in South Carolina has fallen by 47% - a remarkable decline and one that should be celebrated. Between 1992-2012, teen birth rates in South Carolina declined among all ages, all races, and in all 46 counties. The most recent 15-19 year old birth rate, 36.5 per 1,000, is the lowest in recorded history. While this success is significant, we must not confuse progress with victory. South Carolina still has the 11th highest teen birth rate in the nation; more than 5,500 teens give birth in our state each year; and, as shown in the map below many individual counties still lag far behind national averages.  

In South Carolina:

  • 15 teens (age 15-19) give birth every day.
  • 5,532 teens (age 15-19) gave birth in 2012.
  • 26% of SC teens were already teen parents. 
  • 73% of all teen births occurred among 18-19 year olds in 2012.
  • 17% of teen pregnancies reported in 20 ended in abortion.
  • 57% of high school students report they have had sex.

The Impact

The financial implications of teen pregnancy are staggering, but the societal consequences are dire. Teen mothers, fathers, and their children face social and economic disadvantages throughout their lives.  Use this section of the website to learn more about teen pregnancy and how this one issue is linked to a host of other social issues.

Impact on Teen Mothers

  • Have higher rates of low birth weight babies and infant mortality than mothers in their 20s.
  • Are less likely to finish high school...only 38% ever will.
  • Are more likely to live in poverty and rely on public assistance.

Impact on Children of Teen Mothers

  • Are less prepared to enter the school system and score lower on measures of school readiness.
  • Are 50% more likely to repeat a grade, less likely to complete high school, and have lower performance on standardized tests.

Impact on SC Taxpayers

  • SC taxpayers spent at least $166 million on costs associated with teen childbearing in 2010.

Investing in Prevention

Teen pregnancy prevention programs are one of the best investments we can make in South Carolina’s future. According to a 2010 report by the University of Iowa’s Public Policy Center, each tax dollar spent on programs to prevent unintended pregnancy saved taxpayers an average of $3.78 in the first year—nearly a 400% return on investment. Viewed in this light, efforts to prevent teen pregnancy are a bargain. By taking a long-term view and investing in prevention, we can save money and ensure that all young people in South Carolina have an opportunity to thrive.