(RNS) Nearly three in five births to unmarried women across the United States were to women living with their partner — marking the first time a majority of these births were to women in cohabiting relationships, according to a new analysis of federal data released Wednesday (Aug. 13).

A mother and father holding their baby's feet.

A mother and father holding their baby’s feet. Photo courtesy of Hannamariah via Shuttestock

The increase was sharp; the percentage of nonmarital births within cohabiting relationships rose to 58 percent from 41 percent in just a few years, says the report, based on various data sources from the National Center for Health Statistics, collected between 2002 and 2013, the most recent available.

“What’s happened is the percent of nonmarital births within cohabiting unions has been increasing, but now it’s increased to the point where the majority of nonmarital births are to women that are cohabiting,” said Sally Curtin, the report’s co-author.

While the births in cohabiting relationships increased, the number, rate and percentage of births to unmarried women overall declined during the same period.

In 2013, the total of 1,605,643 births to unmarried women was the lowest since 2005. The birthrate for unmarried women has steadily declined. The peak was 2007–08, with 51.8 births per 1,000 women, compared with 44.8 per 1,000 last year. That 14 percent decline was the steepest ever, the report says. And the percentage of births to unmarried women declined slightly, to 40.6 percent in 2013 from 40.7 percent the previous year.

The new report reflects what demographer Sam Sturgeon, of Taylorsville, Utah, has seen in his data analysis as president of Demographic Intelligence, a for-profit company that provides fertility forecasts for consumer products.

Sturgeon predicts that the rate of nonmarital childbearing has stabilized to the point it will remain flat through 2016, marking an about-face from the increases seen for decades. His latest projections, provided exclusively to USA Today, suggest that the year-over-year increases in the percentage of children born to unmarried parents has slowed. He estimates that by 2016 births overall will increase for all groups of women, except teens.

“The post-recession birth decline is over,” he said. “We are predicting that births will trend up among every group except teenagers in the next few years.”

The birth data for unmarried women is the latest in a series of new data reflecting a leveling of once rapidly increasing changes in how families are created, Sturgeon said.

“A lot of family-related statistics have started to level out,” he said. “The marriage rate was declining for years pretty consistently, and now it seems to have leveled out. The divorce rate was going up and seems to have leveled out. The number of children growing up with two married parents declined for many years but also seems to have flattened out. We’ve seen kind of a stabilization of family in America.”

(Sharon Jayson writes for USA Today.)

MG END JAYSON

 

12 Comments

  1. I interprete this as a victory for liberals.

    All those pre-teen jr. High girls we taught to put condoms on bananas in school is resulting in less teenage mothers. They remember their “find the zipper game” lessons from public education. Meanwhile the older groups have abandoned men altogether, and vice versa, and now births are increasing among the “unions” via sperm banks and surrogates for profit.

    All evidence traditional families are dinosaurs, and propagation of our species can be clinical, unemotional, scientific.

    But now the judgement part…is this all good or bad?

  2. You would…if you were illiterate or didn’t bother to read the article.

    The article states that teen pregnancy births are on a decline. Its appears that couples are just not getting married as much as they used to. Blame goes to declining religiosity and the overall decline in discrimination against non-marital children when it comes to parental benefits. Its also becoming harder to be a “deadbeat dad”.

    “While the births in cohabiting relationships increased, the number, rate and percentage of births to unmarried women overall declined during the same period.”

    “His latest projections…suggest that the year-over-year increases in the percentage of children born to unmarried parents has slowed”

  3. What needs to be faced historically, religiously, and legally is the fact that marriage evolved in different forms for various reasons, none of them divine or eternal.

    Cohabitation evolved out of the ability of people to better live in groups than alone to satisfy sexual needs, shelter, and food. Out of that complex, along with the children that came from such cohabiting relationships, evolved the desire for legal protections for the individuals involved in the complexities of cohabitation.

    Along the way, as people developed religious ideas, “families” that came from that cohabiting determined that the relationships were sacred entities and deserved the approving blessing of their larger religious group. Hence, we have religious or church “marriages,” sometimes called a sacrament.

    The evolution of cultural customs is non-stop. It should be no surprise that as more people cease to believe or participate in religious observances, religious customs relating to cohabitation should also reduce.

    It should be noted that legal obligations continue until they are formally changed. Religion in our civil lives does not have the standing of our legal system though ministers of religion are permitted, as a convenience to avoid double ceremonies, to represent civil authority in presiding over marriage.

    The legal responsibilities of cohabiting partners toward each other and toward any children that come from their union exist even if the cohabiting is informal.

    • “The legal responsibilities of cohabiting partners toward each other and toward any children that come from their union exist even if the cohabiting is informal.”

      Are you saying you think the obligations of marriage should be imposed upon cohabiting partners whether they want them or not?

      I ask because couple often cohabit because they specifically do not want the obligations that accompany legal marriage. To impose them anyway would appear to be a substantial limitation on personal freedom.

      • It looks like you read far too much into the statement than intended.
        Gilhcan was saying legal obligations exist among cohabiting couples, even in the absence of marriage.

        For example:
        A duty for parents to support their children. Marital or otherwise.
        A duty to pay debts and obligations associated with living at a given premises together
        The right to act as legal guardian for a child.

        Marriage changes the nature of these obligations and creates legal defaults which otherwise are absent in cohabitation.

        • Duties of parents toward children have absolutely nothing to do with cohabitation. I wanted to know specifically what duties “toward each other” Gihcan is talking about wrt cohabiters. I think he/she is quite capable of answering that, thanks just the same.

          • Now you are being difficult for its own sake and splitting hairs to create an argument which does not exist.

            I get the feeling Gilhcan is just not bothering because you clearly misconstrued the statement.

          • Nothing to do with you, and nobody needs you to speak for them. With all due respect, buzz off.

  4. What da hell?

    Is RNS adding spin to this article?

    The same piece can be found on Reuters as “more middle aged us women having babies outside marriage:cdc” as reported by David Beasley.

    No mention on “unions” in that piece. Only cohabitation…which does not necessarily imply a lesbian couple…as RNS does.

    I tell you I would be shocked, SHOCKED if RNS was lying to us to press an agenda.

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