But the institute also sees a link between the rise in the teenage pregnancy and abortion rates and the Bush administration’s reliance on abstinence-only sex education programs that bar teaching about contraception. This is not an unreasonable inference.Likely, the inference is unreasonable. Perhaps funding for abstinence-only programs is given to schools most in need of health-education funding. Those schools most in need of funds tend to have higher teen pregnancy rates. For example, Section 510 funding for abstinence education is determined by the relative number of low-income teens in a state to low-income teens in other states (source: www.advocatesforyouth.org). In addition, over the last eight years many variables have moved together. Discussing only the correlation between two variables over time (such as teenage pregnancy and presidency), and ignoring all other trends would be misguided.
Saturday, January 30, 2010
A Troubling Uptick
New York Times editorial "A Troubling Uptick" (January 29th 2010), which describes an increase in teenage pregnancy this year and cites a study by the Guttmacher institute, misleadingly suggests that abstinence programs caused increased pregancy in 2010. Here, the causation is unknown, and the Times should not mistake correlation for causation (as it often does):