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MTV Teen Mom Shows Impact Teen Parenting Rates

Teenage Girl Lying On Her Bed With A Pregnancy Test
Photograph by Monkey Business Images Ltd/Valueline/Getty Images

While we're not exactly the demographic for two of MTV's most popular shows, 16 & Pregnant and Teen Mom, they're hard to escape. It seems every day there's a blog post or a tabloid headline about one of the shows' moms. And previously, we had thought of the shows as just more reality shows we'd care to ignore, but then we saw this study about how the shows are actually linked to the drop in teen pregnancy rates in the country.

Now that's something we can get behind!

The study, co-authored by Wellesley College professor Phillip B. Levine and the University of Maryland economist Melissa S. Kearney, states that there was a sudden decline in the U.S. teen birth rate between 2008 and 2011. While the Great Recession definitely played a role, the study analyzed other factors and found that Teen Mom and 16 & Pregnant "had a significant impact on the staggering drop in teen birth rates, accounting for one-third of the decline after the series first aired."

Just how much did the birth rate change? Well, between 1991 and 2008, there was an average drop of about 2.5 percent each year. Between 2008 and 2012, the decline accelerated to 7.5 percent each year.

The study went into depth, even exploring social media—apparently on Twitter, users were saying that the shows were the best form of birth control. And when you consider that 71 percent of teens have watched 16 & Pregnant, and that it's often rated the most popular on TV, that sentiment must be held by many teens.

It's quite surprising when many of the girls become instant celebrities because of the show. Then again, many deal with issues of drug abuse and repeat criminal charges.

Among the real-life problems discussed on the show are the relationship between the teen parents (often a shaky one), the troubles the moms have with finishing school and more.

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