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Family Fact of the Week: Majority of Births to Women Under 30 Are to Single Moms

Posted By Rachel Sheffield On February 24, 2012 @ 11:00 am In Culture | Comments Disabled

Unwed childbearing has been on the rise for more than five decades, and today more than 40 percent of U.S. children are born to single women [1]. A new study additionally reveals that the majority—53 percent—of births to women under 30 occur outside of marriage.

Rather than a teen birth issue, as is commonly thought, most unwed births are to women in their 20s [1]. While the teen birthrate has declined in recent decades [2], the number of unmarried 20-something women giving birth has increased [3].

However, unwed childbearing isn’t the norm for all young women. In fact, for the college-educated it is still very uncommon [4]. The majority of births are instead to women with a high school diploma or less.

The growing rate of unwed childbearing among these low- and middle-income women compounds the economic problems they will face. Eighty percent of all long-term poverty occurs in single-parent homes [5], and children in single-parent families are approximately five times more likely to be poor [6] than their peers from married-parent homes.

Additionally, children from single-parent homes face a variety of other challenges [7] that perpetuate the cycle of poverty. Compared to their peers from married-parent families, they are less likely to graduate, have lower rates of academic achievement [8], have a greater likelihood of experiencing emotional problems [7], engage in delinquent behaviors [7] at greater rates, and are more likely to become single-parents themselves [9]. (Although about half of the children born to single women are born to those in cohabiting relationships, these relationships frequently do not lead to marriage [3], and children from cohabiting families do not reap the same benefits as their peers from married-parent homes.)

The increasing rate of unwed childbearing, as well as the corresponding breakdown of marriage, in low- and middle-income America is creating a divided society [6] split along the lines of marriage and education.

Efforts to strengthen marriage [6] are crucial to stemming the growing unwed-birth rate and rebuilding the weakening foundations of a growing number of U.S. communities.

[10]

 


Article printed from The Foundry: Conservative Policy News from The Heritage Foundation: http://blog.heritage.org

URL to article: http://blog.heritage.org/2012/02/24/family-fact-of-the-week-majority-of-births-to-women-under-30-are-to-single-moms/

URLs in this post:

[1] more than 40 percent of U.S. children are born to single women: http://familyfacts.org/charts/209/most-unwed-childbearing-occurs-among-females-in-their-twenties

[2] the teen birthrate has declined in recent decades: http://familyfacts.org/charts/280/teen-birth-rates-have-declined

[3] the number of unmarried 20-something women giving birth has increased: http://www.childtrends.org/Files/Child_Trends-2011_11_01_RB_NonmaritalCB.pdf

[4] for the college-educated it is still very uncommon: http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/291505/unwed-childbearing-new-normal-depends-where-you-stand-rachel-sheffield

[5] Eighty percent of all long-term poverty occurs in single-parent homes: http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2009/09/obama-to-spend-103-trillion-on-welfare-uncovering-the-full-cost-of-means-tested-welfare-or-aid-to-the-poor

[6] five times more likely to be poor: http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2010/09/marriage-america-s-greatest-weapon-against-child-poverty?query=Marriage:+America%25E2%2580%2599s+Greatest+Weapon+Against+Child+Poverty

[7] other challenges: http://familyfacts.org/briefs/34/family-and-adolescent-well-being

[8] lower rates of academic achievement: http://familyfacts.org/briefs/35/family-structure-and-childrens-education

[9] single-parents themselves: http://familyfacts.org/briefs/36/family-structure-and-teen-sex

[10] Image: http://blog.heritage.org/wp-content/uploads/209-FF-download.jpg

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