More American Kids Born Out-of-Wedlock than In

In February 2012 an article in the New York Times called marriage in America “a luxury good.” [1]

Mormon FamilyAmerican society has crossed the line — more than half of births to American women under 30 occur outside marriage.  (Fifty-three percent in 2009.)  Nearly two-thirds of all babies born are to women 30 and under.  While children born out of wedlock used to be called “illegitimate,” and most unwed mothers were either poor or a minority race (or both), having children outside of marriage has become an acceptable norm in all strata of American society.

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, according to Child Trends, a Washington research group that analyzed government data.  [1]

College graduates still tend to marry before before bearing children, creating an educational and economic divide that didn’t exist before.

Researchers have consistently found that children born outside marriage face elevated risks of falling into poverty, failing in school or suffering emotional and behavioral problems.  [1]

Various forces have caused this shift:

  • Loosening morals have lifted the stigma from bearing children outside of marriage.
  • Women work, making them less dependent upon having a husband as a breadwinner, and lessening the need to marry for financial support.
  • A loss of faith in marriage.  The view that even marital commitments are temporary.
  • The cost of staging a wedding.

There are still huge racial differences — 73 percent of black children are born outside marriage, compared with 53 percent of Latinos and 29 percent of whites.

Additional Resources:

A Family Resource

Mormon Youth

Mormon Women