Recommendations from the government's social exclusion unit to reduce teenage pregnancies do not address the 'key issue' of 'disadvantage and poor job prospects', an independent briefing paper has concluded.
A report by the Family Policy Studies Centre says 'sex education, contraceptive advice, easier access to abortion and moral disapproval' are 'unlikely to have the desired effect without policies which tackle young people's lack of training and job opportunities'.
It also questions the level of public and media concern over teenage pregnancy. Much of this 'appears to be illfounded', it says.
'Figures show that the rate of conception for women under 20 has remained fairly stable since the early 1980s', and the number of young girls becoming pregnant is still 'very small'.
The total number of conceptions among girls under 16 was 8,800 in 1971 and 8,300 in 1997. The total number of conceptions among under 20-year-olds was 132,700 and 95,500 respectively.
The Family Policy Studies Centre suggests that increased concern results from teenage parents being 'much more of an economic and structural burden than they were in previous generations'.