Subjects: Behavioral health
Forty percent of the children that will be born today in this country will have unmarried moms, according to a study by the National Center for Health Statistics.
Nearly 1.7 million kids were born to unmarried women in 2007.
That’s up 26% in the last 5 years and twice the number in 1980, according to the study.
Causes of the trend are many, including a jump in the number of couples who choose to delay or forgo marriage, increasing social acceptance of unmarried motherhood, and increasing numbers of financially independent women who decide to have children on their own.
“The old adage that ‘first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in the baby carriage’ just no longer holds true,” mused Wellesley sociology professor Rosanna Hertz to the Washington Post.
“(Single mothers are) much more socially acceptable,” Hertz offered. “It’s not going to destroy your employment, and it’s not going to mean that you’ll be made a pariah by the community.”
But others see trouble in the trend because kids who grow up in the absence of a stable, two-parent families tend to encounter more headwind while finding their way.
“Maybe this trend is what young adults want or stumble into, but it’s not in the best interest of children,” Sarah Brown, the chief executive of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy told the Post.
Despite much handwringing about the recent uptick in teenage pregnancy, this phenomenon is not driving the larger trend.
Instead, it is the rise in births to unmarried women who are their 20s and 30s.
The rates are highest and have been rising the fastest among Hispanics and blacks.
In 2006, there were 106 births per 1,000 unmarried Hispanic women, 72 per 1,000 blacks, 32 per 1,000 whites and 26 per 1,000 Asians, according to the report.