December 16, 2011


New brief shows nonmarital childbearing is increasingly common in United States

Having children outside of marriage--nonmarital childbearing--is increasingly common in the United States. A new Research Brief, Childbearing Outside of Marriage: Estimates and Trends in the United States, describes how the population of women bearing children outside of marriage has changed, often in ways that challenge public perceptions. Nonmarital childbearing remains a significant public concern as it is linked to negative outcomes for women and their children across a range of measures, as well as with a reliance on public assistance.


In this brief, Child Trends provides up-to-date information about nonmarital childbearing; describes the women who have children outside of marriage; and examines how these patterns have changed over time. Among the findings:

  • Nonmarital childbearing has increased substantially over the past several decades for all groups of women. Between 1970 and 2009, the percentage of all births that took place outside of marriage increased from 11 to 41 percent. Increases in nonmarital births have been more dramatic among white and Hispanic women than among black women.
  • Women in their twenties have the highest levels of nonmarital childbearing. In 2009, 62 percent of all nonmarital births occurred to women aged 20-29; only 21 percent occurred to teens.
  • A majority of all births that occurred outside of marriage were unintended--either mistimed or not wanted (50 percent of all births to cohabiting couples and 65 percent of all births to couples not married or cohabiting).
  • The rise in the number of children being born outside of marriage-among all groups-is linked to broader changes in family structure, most notably increases in cohabitation.

Read more here.


Related briefs





 Please read our latest post,  

Trends in Marriage and Fertility,
and subscribe to
Trends Lines, Child Trends' blog




| DataBank  Resources  |  What Works  |  Employment Opportunities |



Find us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter