NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Media Influences on Social Outcomes: The Impact of MTV's 16 and Pregnant on Teen Childbearing

Melissa S. Kearney, Phillip B. Levine

NBER Working Paper No. 19795
Issued in January 2014, Revised in August 2015
NBER Program(s):   CH   HE   LS

This paper explores the impact of the introduction of the widely viewed MTV show 16 and Pregnant on teen childbearing. The reality TV show follows the lives of pregnant teenagers during the final months of their pregnancy and early months of motherhood. We match Vital Statistics birth data to Nielson television ratings data to investigate whether exposure to the show had an impact on teen childbearing rates. We implement an instrumental variables (IV) strategy using local area MTV ratings data from a pre-period to predict local area 16 and Pregnant ratings. We also introduce event study methods, utilizing the specific timing of the show’s introduction to identify a causal effect. The results of this analysis imply that the introduction of this MTV show led to a 4.3 percent reduction in teen births in the 18 months following its initial airing. This accounts for 24 percent of the overall decline in teen births in the United States during that period. We supplement these findings with an examination of data from Google Trends and Twitter, which suggest that this show led to increased interest in contraceptive use and abortion, as captured by internet search and tweeting behavior.

download in pdf format
   (674 K)

email paper

The NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health provides summaries of publications like this.  You can sign up to receive the NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health by email.

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w19795

Published: Melissa S. Kearney & Phillip B. Levine, 2015. "Media Influences on Social Outcomes: The Impact of MTV's 16 and Pregnant on Teen Childbearing," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(12), pages 3597-3632, December. citation courtesy of

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded* these:
Kearney and Levine w17964 Explaining Recent Trends in the U.S. Teen Birth Rate
Kearney and Levine w17157 Income Inequality and Early Non-Marital Childbearing: An Economic Exploration of the "Culture of Despair"
Alesina and Giuliano w19750 Culture and Institutions
Boudoukh, Feldman, Kogan, and Richardson w18725 Which News Moves Stock Prices? A Textual Analysis
Kearney and Levine w17965 Why is the Teen Birth Rate in the United States so High and Why Does it Matter?
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Themes
Data
People
About

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us