Teen births cost taxpayers millions

Teen childbearing in Louisiana cost taxpayers at least $152 million in 2010, a figure that would have been much higher if the state had not sharply reduced the teen birth rate over the past 20 years, according to an updated analysis from The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

Nationwide, the cost for teen childbearing was $9.4 billion.

Most of the public-sector costs of teen childbearing are associated with negative consequences often experienced by the children of teen mothers, during their childhood and their adolescent years, the report shows. Those consequences includes public health care costs, through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and increased participation in child welfare. Among children who have reached adolescence and young adulthood, there are higher rates of jail time and lost tax revenue due to decreased earnings and spending.

Between 1991 and 2010 there were 216,191 teen births in Louisiana, costing taxpayers a total of $4.8 billion over that period, the report says. These public sector costs would have been even higher had it not been for the substantial declines in teen childbearing.

Louisiana has seen a 37 percent decline in the teen birth rate between 1991 and 2010. The impressive strides made have saved taxpayers an estimated $160 million in 2010 alone, compared to what they would have paid if rates had not fallen.