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US Reforms Reduce Teenage Births

"The United States leads the developed world with it's teenage birth rate and New Zealand is ranked third. For this reason we should be taking more than just a passing interest in what the United States is doing to address what is largely a socio-economic problem, " Lindsay Mitchell, petitioner for a Parliamentary review of the DPB says.

"According to a study published last month by the US National Bureau of Economic Research, welfare reform has reduced the birth rate among teenage women who are at the greatest risk of going on welfare. Two groups from 1979 and 1997 were compared. The researchers found the birthrate had dropped from 28 to 19 percent, the school drop-out rate from 26 to 16 percent and that teenage mothers were 'more likely to live with a spouse or to live with at least one parent than in the pre-reform era.' "

"The major welfare reform undertaken in the United states in 1996 was to limit the amount of welfare available. Assistance to single parents is no longer an indefinite entitlement."

Mrs Mitchell concludes," If New Zealand wants to emulate these successes, retaining the current availability of the DPB isn't the answer. "


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