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MTV’s 16 & Pregnant, which spurred the Teen Mom franchise, is responsible for a decline in the U.S. teen birth rate, according to a new study.
The National Bureau of Economic Research released the study’s findings on Monday, stating the hard realities depicted on the show have helped prevent teen pregnancies.
“This is sex education for the 21st century. This is a show that very clearly exemplifies what life is going to be like in the aftermath of having a baby at such a young age,” said co-author of the study, Phillip Levine, NBC News reports. Levine, from t Wellesley College, did the study with Melissa Schettini Kearney from the University of Maryland.
He added, “It’s very hard to convey that message in any other way. You could talk about it in a classroom environment and maybe it could have some impact, but this is much more compelling.”
The study looks at information from Nielsen ratings, Google, Twitter and federal birth data, that shows the public conversation about contraceptives rose in the year and a half following the launch of 16 & Pregnant.
Huffington Post reports there was an almost six percent decline in teen births in the 18 months following the show’s premiere. The number of abortions had been decreasing since before that.
Although shows like 16 & Pregnant and Teen Mom have been accused of glamorizing teen pregnancies, Levine stated, “You see very stressful relationships, difficulties with boyfriends, lack of sleep, difficulties completing their education – that clarifies for people exactly what life is going to be like afterwards.”