However, Levine and Kearney were curious if the timing of the airing of Teen Mom and 16 and Pregnant had any influence.
Teen abortion rates also fell over this period, which Levine and Kearney see as further evidence that the shows are partly responsible for a reduction in pregnancies.
In an effort to find the "causal effect of specific media content on teen childbearing rates," Kearney and Levine began an empirical investigation by studying Nielsen ratings (a US audience
measurement system) as well as data, trends and metrics from Google and Twitter. Specifically, searches and tweets on birth control and abortion spiked each time the show was broadcast, particularly
in areas where it was popular.
Study: US reality shows contributed to record decline in teen pregnancy | Ars Technica
"Typically, the public concern addresses potential negative influences of media exposure," concluded Levine and Kearney in their report, "but this study finds it may have positive influences as
The new study, coauthored by Wellesley College economist Phillip B. This conclusion is in stark contrast to research Wired.co.uk reported on last week, which claimed that reality shows, particularly
Teen Mom and 16 and Pregnant, gave young viewers unrealistic ideas about teen pregnancy and are probably a "contributing factor" to the problem.
Crucially, however, they found please click the next webpage
that Teen Mom and 16 and Pregnant, as well as the spin-off show Teen Mom 2, "led teens to
noticeably reduce the rate at which they give birth." Consequently, they estimated that there was a "5.7 percent reduction in teen births that would have been conceived between June 2009, when the
show began, and the end of 2010. "We conclude that exposure to 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom was high and that it had an influence on teens' thinking regarding birth control and abortion."
Teen pregnancies in the US are currently at an all-time low, declining significantly between the years 2008 and 2012, with the recession thought to be largely responsible for the dip. This can
explain around one-third of the total decline in teen births over that period."
. The researchers then examined the impact on teen birth rates using Vital Statistics Natality microdata.
This story originally appeared on Wired UK.
The figures revealed that Teen Mom and 16 and Pregnant often had extremely high ratings and a very dedicated following, causing many to search and discuss the themes explored on the shows. Levine and
University of Maryland economist Melissa Schettini Kearney, found Teen Mom and 16 and Pregnant led to a 5.7 percent reduction in teen pregnancies from 2009 to 2010.
However, researchers at Indiana University would disagree, whose damning conclusion suggested entirely the opposite was true: "While it would be inappropriate to suggest that viewing these programs
is the cause of teen pregnancy, one might consider it a contributing factor."
A study from Wellesley College and the University of Maryland finds that MTV's Teen Mom and 16 and Pregnant contributed to a record decline in US teen pregnancy. "Our use of data from Google Trends
and Twitter enable us to provide some gauge of what viewers are thinking about when they watch the show," said Professor Levine