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Michigan's drop in teen pregnancies means taxpayers pay less

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

A new report claims teen pregnancies cost Michigan taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars a year. That’s a despite a sharp decline in teen birth rates during the past two decades.

Bill Albert is with the ‘National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy’, which produced the report.

Albert says the finding is based on their estimate of costs to public assistance programs, reduced earnings, criminal justice and lost tax revenues. But he says there is a bright side.

“While teen child bearing in Michigan is still a significant burden for taxpayers, it is also true that there has been enormous cost savings over the past two decades because of the progress Michigan has made reducing teen birth rates,” says Albert.

Albert says Michigan’s teen birth rate has dropped by 49% since 1991.

The report says, even with the decline, teen pregnancies cost Michigan taxpayers about $283 million dollars in 2010.

“We have seen enormous progress in Michigan and in all other states….and among all racial and ethnic groups,” says Albert, “But the wrong message to take away from that is the mission is accomplished.”

Albert says efforts should continue to discourage teenagers from having sex and to encourage contraception among those who do.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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