57 Percent of Young Mothers Unmarried

June 26, 2014

An increasing number of young women are unmarried when they have their first child, explains Rachel Sheffield, policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation. Indeed, a recent study from Johns Hopkins University found that 57 percent of mothers between 26 and 31 years old are unmarried at the time of the birth of their first child.

In particular, whether the mother has received a college education seems to be a main factor in separating unmarried from married mothers:

  • Sixty-three percent of births to women without a high school degree occur outside of marriage.
  • But for college-educated women, less than 30 percent of births occur outside of marriage.

This trend is especially troubling for children:

  • Children are five times more likely to experience poverty when born into single-parent homes.
  • The likelihood of falling into poverty is not one that can be chalked up to the parents' lower education levels, writes Sheffield, as parents with low levels of education are far less likely to experience poverty if they are married.
  • Additionally, children of married parents are more likely to graduate from high school and college, less likely to engage in delinquency and less likely to become single parents.

According to research, young mothers today are not opposed to marriage but do not see it as a necessary step prior to childbirth.

Sheffield suggests that community marriage initiatives and relationship education programs could do much to strengthen families and spread the message of the importance of marriage.

Source: Rachel Sheffield, "A Majority of Young Adults Are Having Kids Outside Marriage. Why That Hurts Kids' Futures," Daily Signal, June 21, 2014

 

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