2019

The New Mother: Young and Single

BY RELEVANT ISSUE 57 / LIFE May 06, 2012

Today, 53 percent of American babies born to women under 30 are born out of wedlock.

This rise in non-marital births has come primarily from couples living together—a tenuous arrangement, as unmarried couples living together are twice as likely to split as married couples.

Although the fastest increase in unwed mothers has occurred among white women in their 20s who have some college education but not a four-year degree, large racial and socioeconomic differences remain. According to Child Trends, 73 percent of black children, 53 percent of Latinos and 29 percent of whites are born outside marriage. Education is also a key factor, as 92 percent of college-educated women are married when they give birth—the percent decreases as education does.

Such a racial and economic gap is particularly concerning when research has consistently found that children born outside marriage have a harder time in life. “Children born outside marriage reach adulthood with less education, earn less income, have lower occupational status, experience higher rates of divorce, and report more symptoms of depression,” writes Paul R. Amato, a professor of sociology at Pennsylvania State University, in a report for Future of Children. “ The importance of increasing the number of children growing up with two happily and continuously married parents and of improving the well-being of children now living in other family structures is self-evident.”

[By the Numbers]
53%

Births among American moms under 30 that are outside marriage

2/3

Unwed couples living together who split before their child is 10

73%

Black children who are born outside marriage

92%

College-educated women who are married when they give birth