Oil rigs, such as the sites between Stanley and New Town, N.D. pictured above, have led to new jobs and a revitalized economy, but have recently been attributed to the state's low teen pregnancy rate. (Will Kincaid/USA TODAY)
According to a new Guttmacher Institute report, the unusually low teen pregnancy rate in North Dakota may be due to the state’s oil boom.
“It’s not by having such great sex ed, contraception access, and abortion providers,” Guttmacher senior researcher Laura Lindberg told Slate writer Amanda Hess.
With only one Planned Parenthood facility in the entire state and 75 percent of the population living in counties with no abortion provider, North Dakota's teen pregnancy measures seem an unlikely cause. With the influx of young men to the state, the numbers are even more puzzling.
As our nation’s most recent oil boom continues to unfold, North Dakota has been at the forefront of shale excavation. Thousands of workers have flocked to the otherwise sparsely populated state, creating boom towns, new roads, and revitalizing the state’s economy, as North Dakota has reaped the benefits of the Bakken shale that sits thousands of feet below.
Yet, even with the third highest men to women ratio in the U.S., teen pregnancy has subsided, possibly due to the low economic inequality and the unusual gender ratio. "Research suggests that women are more likely to delay pregnancy when they perceive future opportunities to climb the social and economic ranks," writes Hess. Rarely is an unemployment rate of 3.2 percent blamed.
Though the low numbers are impressive, North Dakota has had a smaller number of teen pregnancies over the years, with just 666 births to teen mothers in 2008. "There are very low numbers of actual teen births occuring in North Dakota..."[it's] not enough to make it part of the culture."
North Dakota's teen pregnancies may be below the average U.S. state, but as Hess notes, they are still above that of most of Europe.