Teenage motherhood is a pressing issue in the United States, and one that is disproportionately affecting racial/ethnic minorities. In this research, we examine the relationship between the distance to the nearest reproductive health clinic and teenage birth rates across all zip codes in Houston, Texas. Our primary data come from the Texas Department of State Health Services. We use spatial regression analysis techniques to examine the link between clinic proximity and local teenage birth rates for all females aged 15 to 19, and separately by maternal race/ethnicity. We find, overall, limited support for a connection between clinic distance and local teenage birth rates. However, clinics seem to matter most for explaining non-Hispanic white teenage birth rates, particularly in high-poverty zip codes. The racial/ethnic and economic variation in the importance of clinic distance suggests tailoring clinic outreach to more effectively serve a wider range of teenage populations. We argue social accessibility should be considered in addition to geographic accessibility in order for clinics to help prevent teenage pregnancy.
Social Science & Medicine – Elsevier
Published: Mar 1, 2018
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