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Netherlands Has Same Rate Of Teen Sex As US, But Far Less Pregnancy, Abortion

A new book compares teen sex in the U.S. and the Netherlands, finding some dramatic differences.

Amy Schalet, associate professor of sociology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and author of "Not Under My Roof: Parents, Teens, and the Culture of Sex," has found that the U.S. has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the Western world, while the Netherlands has one of the lowest.

According to Schalet, teens in both countries start having sex at about the same time, 17 years old, but American teen girls are eight times more likely to give birth and twice as likely to have an abortion than girls in the Netherlands, AlterNet notes.

Schalet's research has also found that teens in the U.S. get over 3 million sexually transmitted infections (STIs) each year, accounting for more than 25 percent of all STIs in the country.

Schalet concludes that U.S. teens are less likely to have access to contraception and sex education, while teens in the Netherlands are provided both.

The Guttmacher Institute released a study earlier this year entitled, "Adolescent Pregnancy, Birth, and Abortion Rates Across Countries: Levels and Recent Trends." In a press release, the Guttmacher Institute said that pregnancy rates have dropped among developed nations, but "the teen pregnancy rate is still highest in the United States (57 per 1,000 15–19-year-olds), followed by New Zealand (51) and England and Wales (47). The lowest rate was in Switzerland (8 per 1,000), followed by the Netherlands (14), Slovenia (14) and Singapore (14)."

The Guttmacher Institute added: "Among countries with reliable evidence, the researchers found exceptionally low teen pregnancy, birth and abortion rates in Switzerland (8, 2 and 5 per 1,000 15–19-year-olds, respectively), where long-established sex education programs, free family planning services and low-cost emergency contraception are widely available, and sexually active teens are expected to use contraceptives. By contrast, the United States’ rates of teen pregnancy, birth and abortion (57, 34 and 15 per 1,000 15–19-year-olds, respectively) were among the highest."

Sources:, Guttmacher Institute / Image Credit: CDC


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