With the devaluation of traditional marriage over the past couple of decades has come an alarming increase in the number of children growing up in homes without fathers, and an increasingly casual attitude about childrearing. A recent study from Child Trends, a non-profit research group that identifies emerging trends in child development, found that as of 2010, 41 percent of all births in America occur outside of marriage. That compares to about 11 percent in 1970 and around 30 percent in 1990.
One of the findings of the study that has received the most media attention is the statistic showing that the majority of births to women under 30 years of age occur outside of marriage. While African-American and Hispanic women still lead the way in the percentage of non-marital births (73 percent and 53 percent, respectively), the problem is one that transcends race and ethnicity, with the percentage of illegitimate births among white women growing from 17 percent in 1990 to nearly 30 percent today.
Reported the New York Times of the study: “Once largely limited to poor women and minorities, motherhood without marriage has settled deeply into middle America. The fastest growth in the last two decades has occurred among white women in their 20s who have some college education but no four-year degree….”
The Times noted that among “mothers of all ages, a majority — 59 percent in 2009 — are married when they have children. But the surge of births outside marriage among younger women … is both a symbol of the transforming family and a hint of coming generational change.”
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