The Brookings Institution, the left-leaning pillar of the Washington establishment, is crediting MTV for its part in the robust decline in teen-age pregnancy.
The pregnancy rate among teens plummeted 52 percent since 1991. Since the Obama presidency, that rate has been in free-fall, sinking 7.5 percent annually from 2008 and 2012. That’s triple the rate during the Clinton and Bush years. But Brookings doesn’t credit federal policy for the sinking pregnancy rate. (Sorry, Barry).
Brookings says better educational opportunities for young women and improved effectiveness and access to contraceptives are the consensus reasons for the decline in pregnancy.
It deals a wild card: media influences -- especially MTV’s “16 and Pregnant,” program, which hit the air in 2009, along with spin-offs “Teen Mom,” “Teen Mom 2” and “Teen Mom 3.” Those shows depict the hellish life of raising a child when the mother is barely beyond her own childhood.
In its research, Brookings tracked Nielsen, Google and Twitter data and found that the number of searches and Tweets for subjects like “birth control” and “abortion” spiked during the period in which one of programs aired.
Further breaking down the data, Brooking found the viewership spikes corresponded geographically to the time frame that MTV was showing the programs.
The think tank says the number of teen births declined 5.7 percent during the first 18 months after the debut of 16 and Pregnant. That’s about one-third of the overall decline in birth.
Personally, I always considered 16 and Pregnant and its offspring unwatchable run-out-of-room trash TV. My now 22 and 19-year-old daughters, however, were fans.
Thank you, MTV.