Behind the Headline: Share of Births to Unmarried Women Dips, Reversing a Long Trend

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Share of Births to Unmarried Women Dips, Reversing a Long Trend
6/17/15| Pew Research Center

Behind the Headline
Revisiting the Moynihan Report on its 50th Anniversary
Spring 2015| Education Next

New data released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control show that the overall birth rate in the U.S. went up last year but that the rate of unmarried women who gave birth declined. Births among unmarried women fell 1 percent, which marked a drop in children born out of wedlock for the sixth year in a row.

The Pew Research Center notes that the share of births which were to unmarried women also declined.

In 2014, 40% of births were to unmarried mothers, a slight decline from the 41% share that had held steady since 2008. The share of births to unmarried mothers had been climbing more or less steadily for many decades; the last dip happened in 1995. Although the single percentage point drop in 2014 was small, it was only the third one-year dip in this measure since the end of World War II. The decline also is notable because it occurred among all racial and Hispanic origin groups.

A special issue of Education Next published in Spring 2015 looked at the impact on children of being raised in a single-parent family. The issue marked the 50th anniversary of the 1965 release of the Moynihan Report.

Among the articles appearing in that issue are “Was Moynihan Right? What happens to children of unmarried mothers,” by Sara McLanahan and Christopher Jencks and “One-Parent Students Leave School Earlier: Education attainment gap widens,” by Kathleen M. Ziol-Guest, Greg J. Duncan and Ariel Kalil.

-Education Next

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