Problem: Though it has been declining, the United States still has the highest teen birth rate of any developed country—34.3 births per 1,000 women aged 15-19, as of 2010. And teen mothers tend to face educational challenges—less than one-third finish high school and less than 2 percent graduate from college. A new study published in the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory looks at schools in Georgia, and how the presence of minority and female teachers could affect teen pregnancy rates.
The study builds on previous research that has shown that having minority representation can improve outcomes for an organization or community—for example, having more female supervisors for a child support enforcement operation increases the child support payments received by mothers. Another example can be found in the Indian state of West Bengal, which mandated that at least a certain number of government positions be filled by women. A study in that region later found more support for educational equality for girls than in villages without that quota.
Methodology: Researchers analyzed data from Georgia public schools between 2002 and 2006, and teen pregnancy rates by county. They looked at the number of teachers by race and gender, as well as teen pregnancy rates by race and socioeconomic status (measured by whether or not students received free or reduced-price lunch).