May 26, 2010

Unmarried Mothers

41%

A record four-in-ten births were to unmarried women in 2008.

Today’s new mothers are increasingly older, better educated and more likely to be unmarried than were mothers of newborn children in the past. In 2008, a record 41% of births in the U.S. were to unmarried women. This includes a majority of births to women younger than age 25 (59% to unmarried mothers). In total, 1.7 million babies were born to unmarried mothers in 2008. By comparison, 2.5 million babies were born to married mothers (59% of all births). Roughly 20 years ago, only 28% of births were to unmarried women; births to unmarried mothers rose by 48% between 1990 and 2008. While the highest share of unmarried mothers is among black women (72%), the sharpest increase in unmarried births occurred among white (29%) and Hispanic mothers (53%). Most Americans say they know at least one woman who had a baby while she was not married, and one man who fathered a child while he was not married, according to a Pew Research survey. But while Americans have softened slightly in their disapproval of unmarried parenthood, most continue to say it is bad for society. Read More