New Report: 48 Percent of First Children Born to Unwed Mothers

Penny Starr, CNS News, March 21, 2013

Calling it “The Great Crossover,” a report by academics and social activists shows that for the first time in history the median age of American women having babies is lower than the median age of marriage–25.7 and 26.5, respectively.

These “dramatic changes in childbearing,” the report states, results in dramatic statistics about American children. Among them, 48 percent of first births are by unwed mothers, and by age 30 two-thirds of American women have had a child, typically out of wedlock.

Kay Hymowitz, an author of the report and a William E. Simon Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, said at an event to release the report on Wednesday at the Brookings Institution, that it reflects how the view of what marriage is about has changed.

This includes young adults who say marriage and children “are two separate things,” Hymowitz said.

The overall consensus of the report, with data in part gleaned from the U.S. Census Bureau is that Americans are postponing marriage to their late 20s and 30s, putting that separation in place.

“Culturally, young adults have increasingly come to see marriage as a ‘capstone’ rather than a ‘cornerstone’ – that is, something they do after they have all their ducks in a row, rather than a foundation for launching into adulthood and parenthood,” the report states.

The report cites two reasons – middle class American men having difficulty finding stable employment that allows them to support a family and “a less understood” reason about the disconnect between marriage and childbearing.

The report states that the “good news” of delayed marriage is that women can more easily have successful careers, and research shows that divorce rates are lower for later marriages.

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