Research questions strategies to reduce teenage pregnancy rates

New research has questioned existing reasons used to explain why teenage girls who grow up without a father are more likely to become pregnant than those who live with both parents. If correct, the findings hold important and far-reaching policy implications.

Conventional explanations attribute the higher incidence of teenage pregnancies in households with absent fathers to the increased stress and financial hardship experienced by these families. This environment, it was hypothesised, triggered an innate response in young girls to reproduce and pass on their genes earlier.

However, a new study carried out by a team of psychologists at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand have challenged this theory, presenting evidence proving that even when stress is figured out of the equation teenage girls with absent fathers are still more likely to fall pregnant.

While the team is uncertain as to why this should be the case, the study suggests that stress and poverty alleviation strategies designed to reduce the occurrence of teenage pregnancies in households without fathers are likely to fail.

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