Reproductive Health has some news that may come as a surprise to some: a study in the journal reports that higher rates of teen pregnancy can be found among states where there are more conservative or fundamental religious beliefs.
The study, led by Joseph and Jillian Strayhorn, looked at public data from government websites regarding birth rates, conservative religious beliefs, income and abortion rates for each U.S. state. The results showed that higher levels of increased religiosity among residents in a state was a strong predictor for a higher teen birth rate. Even when income was a controlled factor in the results, there was still a high correlation between religiosity and teen birth rate. And when abortion rates were a controlled factor in the results, "the partial correlation between teen birth rate and religiosity remained high and significant."
The authors make it clear that they do not want readers to walk away with the assumption that "religious teens get pregnant more often" (PDF). Rather they aim to use scientific methods to reveal that there is a correlation between religiosity and teen pregnancy on a larger scale, and that assumptions should not be made at an individual level.
There are a lot of considerations to be made here. Are the teenagers getting pregnant in these communities planning these pregnancies? Or are they unplanned? I'm sure many teenagers may be planning to have children, but many are not. With few or no options, teenagers are having children, and the communities where this happens at a higher rate are conservative religious ones.
It seems part of what is contributing to these results is a lack of contraception made available to many communities and years of pushing abstinence-only education.