Better prevention leads to fewer births among foreign teenagers

08/03/2004 10:00

The rise in the number of teenage mothers in the Netherlands came to a halt in 2002. The decrease in the number of births among teenage girls was small, and completely caused by the fall in the number of teenage mothers with a foreign background: 1,937 births in 2002, down from 2,085 in 2001. The number of native Dutch teenage girls who had a baby continued to increase: from 1,484 in 2001 to 1,579 in 2002.

Live births per 1,000 girls aged 15-19 years

Live births per 1,000 girls aged 15-19 years

Smaller difference

The risk of girls with a non-western foreign background having a baby before their twentieth birthday is still many times as high as that for Dutch girls. In 1996 they were eight times as likely to have a baby, in 2002 just over five times as likely.

The birth rate among first generation non-western foreign girls was nine times as high as among Dutch girls in 2002. For second generation girls it was just over twice as high.

Live births per 1,000 girls aged 15-19 years, by country (or parents’ country) of origin

Live births per 1,000 girls aged 15-19 years, by country (or parents’ country) of origin

Fewer births and abortions, more prevention

The decrease in motherhood among Turkish, Moroccan, Surinamese and Antillean/Aruban teenagers was mainly the result of improved preventive contraception.

Both the number of births and the number of abortions dropped significantly for girls with a Surinamese and Antillean/Aruban background.

Abortion rates are much lower for Moroccan and especially for Turkish girls than for their Surinamese and Antillean/Aruban peers. For Turkish teenagers the rate is similar to that among native Dutch girls. The number of terminations was slightly lower among Turkish and Moroccan teenagers than in 2001.

Abortions per 1,000 girls aged 15-19 years, by country (or parents’ country) of origin

Abortions per 1,000 girls aged 15-19 years, by country (or parents’ country) of origin

No improvement in prevention for other non-westerners

Prevention of pregnancy did not improve among other non-western foreigners. The number of pregnancy terminations increased in this group.

Unlike Turkish, Moroccan, Surinamese and Antillean/Aruban teenagers, the slight fall in the birth rate in this group was caused by an increase in the number of abortions.

The abortion rate among native Dutch girls remained more or les constant, although the number of births rose slightly. In this group too, therefore, prevention of pregnancy seems to have declined.

Teenage birth and abortion rates in Europe

Compared with other EU countries, the Netherlands still has very few teenage births and abortions, although it must be said that some other western countries have shown very favourable developments in this area in the last ten years.

The abortion rate is highest in the United Kingdom and the Scandinavian countries. In the latter countries it is apparently an important factor in the decrease of teenage births.

Joop Garssen

Source: Bevolkingstrends 1/2004 (Dutch only)  pages 13 – 22. (PDF)