On Taxpayers

Teen Pregnancy and the Taxpayer

It’s easy to think that teen pregnancy doesn’t affect you—especially if you don’t have children—but consider the hidden expenses of South Carolina’s high teen pregnancy rate. Teen pregnancy costs South Carolina taxpayers at least $166 million in 2010. The majority of these costs are associated with negative consequences for the children of teen mothers.

Because many teen mothers live in poverty, care for both mother and child can be publicly funded for years, including assistance programs for food, medical care and childcare. In addition, daughters of teen mothers are more likely to become teen mothers themselves, creating cyclical poverty over generations.

Prevention Pays

Had it not been for significant declines in the teen birth rate in recent years, the costs to taxpayers would have been even higher. The teen birth rate in South Carolina declined 41% between 1991 and 2010. The progress South Carolina has made in reducing teen childbearing saved taxpayers an estimated $172 million in 2010 alone over the costs it would have incurred had the rates not fallen.

Counting It Up: The Public Costs of Teen Childbearing in South Carolina in 2010