Why are rates of teenage pregnancy decreasing? Applying natural experimental methods to investigate hypothesised causes
Rates of teenage pregnancy have decreased in Scotland, England and Wales in recent years. Similar declines are noted in other countries. Across the academic, grey and popular literature, a number of causes of the reducing rate have been proposed. These include the availability of long acting reversible contraception (LARC), the adoption of effective teenage pregnancy strategies, and an increase in the proportion of young women staying on in post-compulsory education.
Disentangling the causes, estimating their contributions to the decline, and how this varies between countries, is important for the development of public health policy. Should governments invest in campaigns to reduce teenage pregnancy, or should effort be focused on making LARC widely available, or on encouraging 16-17 year old women to remain in full-time education?
Possible causes of changes in teenage pregnancy rates will be identified from a systematic review. Alternative explanations will be tested using information on trends in pregnancy rates and on exposure to public health policies and other possible causes across a range of countries with comparable data.