ERIC Number: ED451914
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 2001-Apr
Births outside of Marriage: Perceptions vs. Reality. Child Trends Research Brief.
Terry-Humen, Elizabeth; Manlove, Jennifer; Moore, Kristin A.
Research supports the anecdotal observation that unmarried mothers and their children face greater obstacles and suffer greater strains than married couples and their children. Less is known about the specific characteristics of the women who have births outside of marriage. This research brief paints a fuller picture of nonmarital childbearing. The data presented here dispel many inaccurate perceptions about unmarried mothers. Research findings indicate that: (1) the percentage of births to unmarried women increased substantially until 1994 and has since plateaued; (2) women in their early twenties have the highest rate of births outside of marriage; (3) teens account for a diminishing share of all births outside of marriage; (4) only about half of nonmarital births are first births; (5) the majority of births outside of marriage are unintended at conception; (6) racial and ethnic disparities in nonmarital childbearing are declining; (7) the proportion of nonmarital births to cohabiting parents is increasing; (8) whites show the greatest increase in births to cohabiting couples; and (9) the majority of unmarried mothers are romantically involved with the father of their baby at the time of the birth. The brief concludes with an examination of factors behind the trends in nonmarital childbearing, the implications of nonmarital childbearing for mothers and children, and public perception of the situation versus reality. Contains 20 references. (EV)
Descriptors: Births to Single Women, Mothers, One Parent Family, Racial Differences, Social Attitudes, Social Change, Sociocultural Patterns, Trend Analysis
Child Trends, Inc., 4301 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Suite 100, Washington, DC 20008; Tel: 202-362-5580; Fax: 202-362-5533; Web Site: http://www.childtrends.org.
Publication Type: Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Chicago, IL.; William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Palo Alto, CA.; Mott (C.S.) Foundation, Flint, MI.
Authoring Institution: Child Trends, Inc., Washington, DC.