How Are California’s Teen Girls Faring?

The teen years are hard. But are they harder than they were in the past? A recent report by our PRB colleagues finds that while American teenage girls of Gen Z are making strides in key areas of education and opportunity, they face alarming threats to their physical and mental health.

While the PRB report focuses on girls born 2000 and later throughout the United States, KidsData tracks California data for many of the topics covered. Here we explore how California’s teen girls are faring on three key measures.

High School Graduation

Percentage of Graduating Class Receiving a High School Diploma, by Gender

Table display showing the percentage of students receiving a high school diploma, by gender: 2017-2021

California girls’ high school graduation rates have been rising. Statewide, girls are more likely to graduate high school with their class than their male peers (87% versus 81% in 2021). And in 16 California counties, girls’ graduation rates exceeded 90% in 2021.

Teen Births

Birth Rate Among Young Women Ages 15 to 19

Trend graph showing the birth rate among young women ages 15-19: 1995-2021.

Teen birth rates for Gen Z girls, like the Millennials before them, have plummeted statewide and nationally. California’s rate dropped by 80% between 2000 and 2021—from 47 births per 1,000 young women ages 15 to 19 to 9 per 1,000—remaining lower and falling faster than the national average. Rates also decreased for all racial and ethnic groups with data over this period, with African American/Black, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Hispanic/Latina teens recording the largest declines. Despite these improvements, large differences remain; for example, while 2021 birth rates exceeded 10 per 1,000 for African American/Black, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Hispanic/Latina teens in California, they were lower than 4 per 1,000 for Asian and white teens. And at the local level, some counties recorded teen birth rates more than double the statewide average.


Number of Suicides Among Young Women Ages 15 to 24

Trend graph showing the number of suicides among young women ages 15 to 24: 1995-2020

The suicide death rate for California young people has increased over the past 20 years, despite staying under the national average since at least 19992001.  The suicide rate among Californians ages 15 to 24 increased from 6.7 suicides per 100,000 in 1999–2001 to 8.7 in 2018–2020. The annual number of suicides among young women in the state doubled between 2000 (59) and 2020 (118). While young men are more likely to die by suicide statewide and nationally, young women are more likely to consider suicide. In 2017–2019, more than 1 in 5 female students in grades 9, 11, and non-traditional programs in California reported seriously considering suicide in the previous year, compared with fewer than 1 in 7 of their male counterparts.

Explore PRB’s national report and read more about California policy and program options to improve youth outcomes related to high school graduation, teen births, and suicide and self-inflicted injury.

Children’s Health Resources

2024 California Children’s Report Card

Children Now’s annual California Children’s Report Card grades the state’s performance in implementing policies and making investments needed for all kids to reach their full potential. Across more than 30 wide-ranging issues in children’s well-being, it provides a progress report and recommendations to state leaders on how to give kids their best chance to thrive.

California Safety, Health, Resilience and Equity (CalSHARE) Data Hub

The UC Berkeley School of Public Health and California Department of Public Health have released the CalSHARE Data Hub, which brings together data from more than 20 sources to allow state and local practitioners and other data users to view more than 80 indicators of health, safety, and well-being at the neighborhood, county, and state level.

Take Action

Information-Gathering Meeting: The Experiences of Youth and Practitioners in Afterschool Programming

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will host a virtual public meeting Thursday, February 8, from 1:30 to 5:00 p.m. ET, in which young people and staff will share their lived experiences participating in or supporting afterschool programs. Young people will share personal stories about what afterschool programs have meant for their lives, while staff will share their experiences and perspectives on professional pathways in the field.

Listening Sessions: California Fair Housing Plan

The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) is updating California’s Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice and will hold listening sessions related to homelessness, people with disabilities and aging population, persons who are immigrants, tribes and tribal residents, tenant protections, and mobile home parks. Each session will provide a brief overview of current fair housing trends, pose questions that HCD would like participants to answer, and invite participants to share their feedback and lived experiences.

Recently Released Data

We recently released data about teen births. See links to the latest here.

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