New Data on Childlessness Part IV: Marital Status

Laura Carroll, Childfree Choice

On to Part IV of  new data on the numbers of childless women put out by the Pew Research Center, (based mainly on combined 2006-2008 data  from the June fertility supplement of the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey). Next: marital status.

Pew breaks women into the “ever married” category to include those who are married now or at some point in the past, and those who have never been married. There’s some interesting results for each…

In a nutshell, more women 40-44 who’ve ever been married do not have children than 14 years ago. More women 40-44 who’ve never been married have children than 14 years ago.  And overall, more unmarried men and women are having children out of wedlock. Details:

In 1994, 11% of all “ever married” women ages 40-44 had no children. In 2008,  this number rose just a bit to 13  percent. Broken down by race, while ever married white women 40-44 show an increase in not having children, ever married black and Hispanic women 40-44 showed the biggest increase.

On the never married channel: In 1994, 70% of women ages 40-44 who’d never been married did not have children. In 2008, that number is 56 percent.

Also from another recent Pew Research report: “In 2008, a record 41% of births in the United States were to unmarried women, up from 28% in 1990. The share of births that are non-marital is highest for black women (72%), followed by Hispanics (53%), whites (29%) and Asians (17%), but the increase over the past two decades has been greatest for whites — the share rose 69%.”

Why such a rise in unmarried birth rates? As Pew indicates, in part it is because more Americans are marrying later in life, or not at all. A Pew survey reveals that most Americans say they know at least one woman who had a baby when she wasn’t married, and a man who fathered a child when he was not married.  But it does not mean American necessarily are more accepting of the idea. The survey also indicated that Americans have softened “slightly” in their disapproval of unmarried parenthood, but still most say it is bad for society.

I think the unmarried having children is actually the more interesting stat here. Are more women choosing to become single  mothers or are more unmarried partners choosing to become parents together? I see more of the latter. What do you see out there?

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