It is widely understood that teenage conception and early motherhood can be associated with poor educational achievement, poor physical and mental health (for both mother and child), social isolation and poverty. There is also recognition that socio-economic disadvantage can be both a cause and a consequence of teenage motherhood.
Analysis of data by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has now revealed a strong link between under 18 conceptions and unemployment in England and Wales. This link is considerably more pronounced in certain geographic regions.
Yorkshire and The Humber had the strongest link between under 18 conception rates and unemployment rates for 2008 to 2010, while London had the weakest link compared with other English regions. With the exception of London, there was an east-west split in the correlation between under 18 conception rates and unemployment.
A deeper dive into regional differences
The under 18 conception rate is the number of conceptions to every thousand women aged 15 to 17.Statisical analysis showed that the unemployment rate accounted for 67% of the variation in the under 18 conception rate in local authorities across England and Wales. This means that, broadly, the higher the unemployment rate a local authority has, the higher the under 18 conception rate will be in that local authority.
The map below shows the regional picture for the link between the under 18 conception rate and unemployment rate for 2008 to 2010. Regions with a stronger link between under 18 conceptions and unemployment show a higher correlation percentage value than those with a weaker link. Darker shades on the map indicate stronger links and lighter shades indicate weaker links.
The map shows that there was an east-west split across England and Wales in how strongly correlated under 18 conception rates were with unemployment rates. The regions in the east generally showed a stronger link than regions in the west. The only exception was London, which, at just 34%, had the weakest correlation percentage out of all the English regions and Wales.
Yorkshire and The Humber had the strongest correlation at 88%, which means that the unemployment rate in the region accounted for 88% of the variation in the under 18 conception rate for 2008 to 2010. This was nine percentage points more than the North East, which had the second strongest link between under 18 conception rates and unemployment rates at 79%. Wales had a relatively weak link between under 18 conception rates and unemployment rates at 46%, and this was the second weakest link overall.
If you would like to discover more about the links between conception rates and various measures of deprivation in your area, you can interact with the Conceptions-Deprivation Analysis Toolkit and read an analytical article.
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