Earlier this week, the CDC released this report on “Changing Patterns of Nonmarital Childbearing in the United States.” The report identifies its key findings as:
- Childbearing by unmarried women has resumed a steep climb since 2002.
- Births to unmarried women totaled 1,714,643 in 2007, 26% more than in 2002. Nearly 4 in 10 U.S. births were to unmarried women in 2007.
- Birth rates have risen considerably for unmarried women in their twenties and over, while declining or changing little for unmarried teenagers.
- Nonmarital birth rates are highest for Hispanic women followed by black women. Rates for non-Hispanic white and Asian or Pacific Islander women are much lower.
- Most births to teenagers (86% in 2007) are nonmarital, but 60% of births to women 20â€“24 and nearly one-third of births to women 25â€“29 were nonmarital in 2007.
- Teenagers accounted for just 23% of nonmarital births in 2007, down steeply from 50% in 1970.
Health Day has coverage here:
In the United States, out-of-wedlock births increased by 26 percent between 2002 and 2007, according to the report. In 1980, the rate of out-of-wedlock births was 18 percent.
Though the reasons for the increase are not clear, Ventura said, one factor might be that having a child when you’re not married is no longer stigmatized.
“The whole thing about social disapproval pretty much evaporated in the last 10 or 15 years, and it’s even more so now,” Ventura said.
Also, the numbers of women having out-of-wedlock births in the United States is so large and widespread in all population groups that it cannot be accounted for by socioeconomic factors, Ventura said.
The trends, though, are concerning, she said.
“Births to unmarried women are at higher risk for poorer birth outcome,” Ventura said. “They are more likely to be low birth weight, be preterm and die in infancy. Other research has shown that children are better off being raised in two-parent families.”