According to a new study by Child Trends, more than half of the births to American women under the age of  30 occur to non-married women. While out-of-wedlock births used to pertain to mostly to minority and/or poor women, the study found that white women in their 20s are leading the trend. 

While the overall amount of births of women of all ages occur to married women (59%), the growing numbers of children born to unmarried women could soon hint at a large cultural shift: marriage is no longer seen as that important.

The New York Times reports:

Among mothers of all ages, a majority — 59 percent in 2009 — are married when they have children. But the surge of births outside marriage among younger women — nearly two-thirds of children in the United States are born to mothers under 30 — is both a symbol of the transforming family and a hint of coming generational change.

One group still largely resists the trend: college graduates, who overwhelmingly marry before having children. That is turning family structure into a new class divide, with the economic and social rewards of marriage increasingly reserved for people with the most education.

“Marriage has become a luxury good,” said Frank Furstenberg, a sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania.

Racial disparities in the out-of-wedlock birthrate still remain ( 73 percent of black children, 53 percent of Latinos and 29 percent of white children are born to unwed mothers), but the growing trend of nonmarital births occur to couples who are living together. However, unlike in other countries where unmarried couples stay together for longer periods of time, here in the U.S. most couples who have children without being married break up before the child turns 10.

Researchers across the board agree that a two parent household is best for children, but increasingly people seem to be waiting longer and longer to get married, and some say this shift suggests that “marriage is not as fundamental to society” as it once was.

While it remains to be seen how the devaluation of marriage will affect our culture as a whole, it’s hard to ignore the fact that a growing number of people are creating the life they want outside of what’s seen as “traditional” and “acceptable.”

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  1. Progress…We’ve fought long and hard to reach this high point in our civilization. The children will be pleased.

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  2. laurenghini

    The study actually states this: “For white women with some college education, the share of births that occur outside of marriage has grown especially quickly. The proportion is now more than triple that in 1990.” While the PROPORTION of out-of-wedlock births is increasing at a faster RATE among whites, blacks still have this OOW birth trend on lock: the VAST MAJORITY of our children are born to unwed mothers – 73%. The VAST MAJORITY of white children are born to a married couple – 71%. How can white women in their 20s possibly be considered leaders on this OOW birth trend?

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    • They are leading the trend because there are more white women in america; for black women it is disproportionate. So there are more white women with COOW than black women, but you will still run into a black woman with a COOW faster than you would a white women.

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    • jejozi

      White women lead in total numbers. But if you look at percentages, blacks lead the way by a large margin. Whites make up over 70% of the total population, but only 29% of white children are born out of wedlock. Blacks make up 10% of the population but 70% of black children are born out of wedlock. Between 1950 and 1960, the out of wedlock birthrate was less than 5% of all births, today its 40%. So, while there was sex in the 50s, it was mainly occurring among married couples.

      The flippant attitude towards the rising out of wedlock birthrate is part of the problem. The chances of OOW babies growing up to lead a productive life, one that isn’t dependent on government handouts, is low. Those children are more likely to also have OOW babies, and their chances of success are also poor. And on, and on, and on.

      Ladies, get some self esteem, use birth control and keep your knees together.

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  3. I have no desire to ever get married, but I also have no desire to have children with someone who I am not in a committed relationship with.

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  4. haffie

    So sad at the end the child is the one suffering.

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  5. Family trends will be markedly different for this generation and the ones after. The much balled about subject of marriage and who’s doing it continues to pop up when studies are released saying marriage is down and divorce threatens to rise. Many people know they want children but with some strides in education, income and wealth that picture does not always include marriage and a neutral family. Yes studies show that children born to single parents suffer more start in life harm than good, but the trends are now outpacing the studies so results from 3-5 years ago may already be archaic. I think we should wait to judge what will happen to children of the future born to single mothers circa now… We may be pleasantly surprised… I hope

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