Publication

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

Melissa S. Kearney and Phillip B. Levine , The American Economic Review 105(12) , 3597-3632 , December 2015.
Abstract:

This paper explores the impact of the introduction of the widely viewed MTV reality show 16 and Pregnant on teen childbearing. Our main analysis relates geographic variation in changes in teen childbearing rates to viewership of the show. 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. The results imply that this show led to a 4.3 percent reduction in teen births. An examination of Google Trends and Twitter data suggest that the show led to increased interest in contraceptive use and abortion.

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