NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Out Of Wedlock Births Soar

November 9, 1999

Women are increasingly choosing to have children before marriage, a new report from the Census Bureau shows.

  • Between 1990 and 1994, 41 percent of girls and women ages 15 to 29 were unmarried when they had their first child -- compared to just 8 percent 60 years earlier.
  • The proportion of first babies conceived out of wedlock by young women in the 1990s nearly tripled from the 1930s -- rising to 53 percent from 18 percent.
  • Experts say that having a child outside of marriage has become more acceptable socially, and is no longer condemned as vehemently by parents and schools.
  • The report also identified the growth of live-in relationships and the healthy economy as factors in the increase in first conceptions out of wedlock.

Teenage women, black women, women with less than a high school education, and women who live in the Midwest were less likely than others to marry in the event of pregnancy.

For black women, the percent of first births either born or conceived before first marriage doubled from 43 percent in the 1930s to 86 percent in the 1990s.

Source: Cheryl Wetzstein, "Births Out of Wedlock to Young Women Increase," Washington Times, November 9, 1999.


Browse more articles on Government Issues