Unwed birth rate is down slightly

Share of Births to Unmarried Women Down for First Time Since 1995Births to unmarried mothers declined slightly in 2013 from 41 percent to 40 percent, according to National Center for Health Statistics data, reports Pew. Unwed births declined for all racial groups and for Latinos.

However, the share of children born to unmarried mothers has more than doubled since 1980, when 18 percent of babies were born out of wedlock.

Births to younger women are down and births to older women are up. Most young mothers are unwed. By the late 20s, the majority of new mothers are married.

Women are staying in school longer to gain more education, notes Pew. Forty-three percent of births are to women 30 and older, up from 36 percent in 2000.

Meanwhile, the teen birth rate has declined sharply.

Overall, the U.S. birth rate rose in 2014 for the first time in seven years.

Single moms, poor babies

More than half of births to women under 30 are out of wedlock, reports the New York Times, trumpeting the “new normal” in middle America. Including older mothers, 59 percent of babies are born to a married couple.

One group still largely resists the trend: college graduates, who overwhelmingly marry before having children. That is turning family structure into a new class divide, with the economic and social rewards of marriage increasingly reserved for people with the most education.

Marriage is becoming a “luxury good,” says a sociologist.

More Single Moms. So What, responds Katie Rophie in Slate, accusing the Times of condescending to “independent-minded, apparently hard-working women (who) are making decisions and forging families, after thinking clearly about their situation.”

Actually, the story portrays hard-working women who didn’t think clearly about how to avoid their situation.

Family breakdown has high costs for children, writes Heather Mac Donald. It is not merely “refresh[ing] our ideas of family.”

Roiphe concludes that there are no (annoyingly retrograde) studies on “what it will be like for . . . children to live in” the coming world without marriage. Actually, we know already. It’s called the ghetto.

Indeed.

Some 73 percent of black children, 53 percent of Latinos and 29 percent of whites are born out of wedlock. While    92 percent of college-educated women are married when they give birth, that drops to 62 percent of women with “some college” and 43 percent of women with a high school diploma or less, according to Child Trends.

Many unwed parents live together, but two-thirds will split up by the time their child turns 10, researchers estimate. And never-married fathers are much less likely to support their children — financially or emotionally — than divorced dads.