Teen Mom Study

A new study coauthored by Wellesley economist Phillip B. Levine and University of Maryland economist Melissa S. Kearney, shows that MTV’s 16 and Pregnant has had a powerful impact on significantly reducing births to teenagers. The study finds that the MTV reality show and its spinoff Teen Mom series led to a 5.7 percent reduction in teen births, which accounts for around one-third of the overall decline in teen births in the year and a half following the show’s introduction. 

Full Study: "Media Influences on Social Outcomes: The Impact of MTV’s 16 and Pregnant on Teen Childbearing,” Levine and Kearney. National Bureau of Economic Research; January 13, 2014.

Press Release: "New Study Finds MTV’s 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom Contributed to Record Decline in U.S. Teen Childbearing Rate"

Huffington Post: Levine & Kearney, "Is MTV's 16 and Pregnant 'A Great Form of Birth Control?" January 13, 2014

Infographic: Media Influences on Teen Sexual Behavior and Childbearing
[Click to download high-resolution image]

Media Coverage


"MTV’s ‘16 and Pregnant,’ Derided by Some, May Resonate as a Cautionary Tale" New York Times, January 13, 2014.

"MTV's '16 and Pregnant,' 'Teen Mom' helped reduce teen birth rate, says study" Entertainment Weekly, January 13, 2014.

"'16 and Pregnant' Stops Teen Births" The Daily Beast, January 13, 2014.

"New Study Points to Direct Link Between MTV Programming and Reduced Teen Birth Rate," Remote Control (MTV), January 13, 2014. 

"Sex ed from 'Teen Mom'" Boston Globe, January 26, 2014. 

"Did 16 & Pregnant and Teen Mom Cause a Drop in Teen Pregnancy?" WGBH, February 3, 2014. 

Images from MTV's Teen Mom 2 (Click image to open)

Kailyn of MTV's Teen Mom 2 with son Issac (Click to open download) 





Phillip B. Levine 

Katharine Coman and A. Barton Hepburn Professor of Economics

Research examines such issues as the impact of abortion policy changes on pregnancy, abortion, and birth, and the impact of the business cycle on retirement behavior. more


Melissa S. Kearney

Associate Professor of Economics; Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution; Director, Hamilton Project

Research focuses on issues of social policy, poverty, and inequality as well as the effect of government programs and economic conditions on the behaviors and outcomes of economically disadvantaged populations. more


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