Teen birth rates in rural areas are higher than teen birth rates in large cities.
Lu Libing touches the belly of his pregnant wife, Mu, as they pose for pictures during an interview with Reuters at their home in Ganzhou, Jiangxi province on March 13, 2014. REUTERS/Alex Lee

The teen birth rate in rural America is significantly higher than the birth rate in major U.S. cities, perhaps shedding new light on the cultural divide.

A report on Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control said the birth rate for teens living in small towns was 63 percent higher than the teen birth rate in more urban areas. But the overall teen birth rate has declined tremendously in urban, rural and suburban counties.

The study was based on data collected on teens ages 15 to 19 by the National Vital Statistics System and the National Center for Health Statistics’ Urban-Rural Classification Scheme between 2007 and 2015. Birth rates for teens 15 to 19 in large cities accounted for 38.1 births per 1,000 women back in 2007. It has since declined by 50 percent to 18.9 births per 1,000 women while smaller urban areas where the birth rate was once 43.1 births per 1,000 women dropped down 44 percent. Rural areas continued to have higher birth rates throughout the eight-year study, but rates still dropped by 37 percent from 2007’s 49.1 births per 1,000 women to 30.9 births per 1,000 women in 2015.

The study said rural counties in Colorado and Connecticut saw the biggest decreases in birth rates – both saw 50-percent drops in birth rates between 2007 and 2015 – while urban counties in states like Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Minnesota saw the biggest decline in birth rates.

Non-Hispanic white females accounted for the lowest birth rate in large urban counties with 10.5 births per 1,000 women. However, the group’s birth rates were 68 percent higher in medium and small counties (14.6 births per 1,000 women) and 2.5 times higher in rural counties with 26.8 birth per 1,000 women. There were 29.1 teen births per 1,000 non-Hispanic black females living in large urban counties compared to 39.0 teen births in rural counties.

Hispanic teens still accounted for the highest birth rate overall with 31.4 births per 1,000 women living in large urban counties, 40.0 births per 1,000 women in medium and small urban counties and 47.0 births per 1,000 women in rural areas.

The study did not consider abortion rates or the likelihood of teens using contraception in the findings. However, a 2014 report by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Service said the declining teen birth rate was due to more adolescents practicing safe sex and using contraceptives and more teens waiting to have sexual intercourse.