Chart of the Day: The Number of Unintended Pregnancies Drop Worldwide

Today’s chart comes from the Guttmacher Institute, with data drawn from a just-published Lancet study that shows the rates of unintended pregnancies around the world are on the decline.

The study compared rates of unintended pregnancies from the period of 1990-1994 with those rates from 2010-2014. It found that in the period from 2010 to 2014 some 44% of all pregnancies worldwide were unintended. This translates to a rate of 62 unintended pregnancies per 1,000 women aged 14 to 44. But even that high number represents a decrease from 1990-1994, when the rate was 74 per 1,000 women.

As is often the case with these studies, there is a sharp difference between the developing and developed world, with the former lagging far behind the latter.


The Guttmacher report adds:

Worldwide, more than half (56%) of unintended pregnancies ended in abortion in 2010–2014. From 1990–1994 to this period, the proportion of unintended pregnancies ending in abortion rose in developing countries and fell in developed countries. Both the unplanned and planned birth rates fell in developing regions, which likely reflects the increasingly common preference for smaller family size, whereas those rates remained about the same in developed regions.

In the end, the surest way to reduced unplanned pregnancies is to increase the availability of family planning and modern contraceptives. The UN Population Fund estimates that some 214 million women worldwide have an unmet need for family planning. Closing that gap by 2030 is a key priority for the international community that is embedded in the Sustainable Development Goals. To that end, this study shows that we still have a long way to go.