Unmarried Parenthood

In the United States, the typical unmarried mother is in her 20s, and has a high school education.  She is often in a committed relationship with her child’s father. However, in the United States, about 40 percent of unmarried parents are no longer together within the first five years of their child’s life, compared with less than 15% of married parents.

Unmarried parenthood correlates with household income. For first-time mothers, the lower the household income, the more common out-of-wedlock births. Almost 60 percent of first births in lower middle-class US households are to unmarried mothers. For mothers who have less than a high-school education, more than 80% of their first births are out-of-wedlock. The rate of out-of-wedlock first births for college graduates, on the other hand, is only 12 percent.

Teen pregnancies, which once led to the majority of unmarried parenthood in the United States, accounted for just one-fifth of all nonmarital births in early 2013. The increase in unmarried parenthood is thought to be the result of people delaying marriage but not delaying having kids, because more women are working and are financially independent. The average marriage age in the United States in 2010 was about 28 for men and 26 for women, up from 26.8 and 25.1, respectively, in 2000.

Unmarried parenthood in the US reached an all-time high in 2013, with an estimated two out of every five births being to unwed mothers, but the rate of teen pregnancy in the United States declined by 42 percent from 1990 through 2008.

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