Archive for Thursday, May 14, 2009

Births to unwed moms continues rising sharply

Iceland has highest rate at 6 in 10

May 14, 2009


— The percentage of births to unmarried women in the United States has been rising sharply, but it’s way behind Northern European countries, a new U.S. report on births shows.

Iceland is the leader with 6 in 10 births occurring among unmarried women. About half of all births in Sweden and Norway are to unwed moms, while in the U.S., it’s about 40 percent.

France, Denmark and the United Kingdom also have higher percentages than the United States, according to the report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The U.S. and at least 13 other industrialized nations have seen significant jumps in the proportion of unmarried births since 1980, said Stephanie Ventura of the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.

Rates have doubled and even tripled in these countries, according to the CDC report released Wednesday.

“Basically we’re seeing the same patterns,” Ventura said, noting the trend has accelerated in the last five years.

Experts are not certain what’s causing the trend but say there seems to be greater social acceptance of having children outside of marriage.

“The values surrounding family formation are changing, and women are more independent than they used to be. And young people don’t feel they have to live under the same social rules that their parents once did,” said Carl Haub, a demographer at the Population Reference Bureau in Washington, D.C.

But there are differences in how unmarried pregnancies are viewed in different countries.

In the United States, unmarried mothers are more likely to be on their own and — traditionally — they are more likely to be poor and uneducated, experts said.

In northern Europe, men and women more often live together in unmarried, long-term, stable relationships, Haub said. Because of declining birth rates in some European countries, people tend to be more focused on whether the baby is born healthy instead of whether the mother is married, Haub said.

He predicted that the total number of births internationally will decline — that’s already happening in some European countries — because of faltering economies. But he expects trends in the percentage of mothers who are unmarried will persist.

The CDC previously has reported on the percentage of U.S. births to unmarried mothers. The new report gathers previously released information from other countries to make an international comparison.

The report shows trends from 1980 to the most recent years available — 2007 for the United States and most of the other countries, but 2006 for six nations.

Japan had the lowest percentage of unmarried births, with 2 percent in 2007, up from 1 percent in 1980.

Increases were much more dramatic in the other countries, with Italy rising from 4 percent to 21 percent, Ireland from 5 percent to 33 percent, Canada from 13 to 30 percent, and the United Kingdom from 12 percent to 44 percent.

The U.S. proportion of unmarried births rose from 18 percent to 40 percent during that period, according to the report.


nschwerm 9 years, 1 month ago

its no surprise in this economy, do you know how much weddings cost?!

Chris Ogle 9 years, 1 month ago

Wonder if the Dad had anything to do with that deal.

beatrice 9 years, 1 month ago

"Burning bras and draft cards has really modernized America. Wow!!" -- said Mr. Angry 1968 Guy.

(burning bras? -- Wow!)

Kim Murphree 9 years, 1 month ago

Were these planned or unplanned pregnancies? The article about this study makes a statement but doesn't differentiate between the two. Truth is, some professional women are fully capable of having and raising a child on their own, and if they have not met "Mr. Right," why not? On the other hand, the unwanted and unplanned births can sometimes result in a not-so-great life for the child---but even that is debatable, especially if the mother has the resources to raise the child. So, what is the real issue? And why do we still adhere to laws that were formed to protect property to label children born to one parent? Isn't that awful and archaic? Moreover, when we have a discussion of social and cultural norms surrounding families in the U.S., shouldn't we include "the fathers?" Or did all of these women get pregnant through invitro or some other fertility clinic? Is single parenting a positive choice? I think a NEW study should be done---to separate out the children of single parents who have resources and those who don't---that's one thing that was missing from the most quoted study on the subject. And so often, in the media, the negative reactions to single parent births seem to focus on the moms---who, by the way, are being accountable for their choices by having and raising a child. Why is that? And shouldn't we give the dads as much responsibility?

jafs 9 years, 1 month ago



Also, why not a study on children in general to determine what circumstances make for happier ones, and better adults?

jayhawklawrence 9 years, 1 month ago

I blame Hollywood for glamorizing unhealthy and destructive sexual behavior.

I know a guy that moved back to Kansas from California and deeply regrets putting his kids in their school system. They are a mess as are many others.

Therein lies one of the biggest problem areas but the biggest problem is self denial and a self centered and arrogant attitude about sex and the people who exploit our young people.

Music_Girl 9 years, 1 month ago

nschwerm (Anonymous) says…

its no surprise in this economy, do you know how much weddings cost?!

My aunt and uncle just got married 2 years ago. They had a very cute ceremony and dress and rings included only cost them $2500. You can't tell me that people can't "afford" to get married. It costs practically nothing to go to the courthouse and be married by a judge or if you belong to a church, to have a very simple ceremony for very little. People just are not as motivated to actually say "I do" as they used to be.

slang4d 9 years, 1 month ago

No surprise here, birth control isn't exactly affordable for most of the working class. Heck, I'm insured and still pay $40 a month for the stuff. Also my insurance won't cover an IUD, but WILL cover complete sterilization. Hilarious and evidence to me that there are not very many options for unmarried woman with little disposable income.

slang4d 9 years, 1 month ago

"I wonder why they do this? Where are they being taught this? Is there some sort of manual that they are using?"

Learn how to do what? Have sex? It's a pretty natural thing and many of us have not had the luck/timing/motivation/whateverittakes to wind up married. It begins with education- teach girls how to protect themselves! It's my understanding abstinence-only education is taking over and girls just aren't as informed. My high school brought in Planned Parenthood who passed around and explained various types of birth control. We understood our options and understood we had access if we needed it. This DID NOT turn me into some kind of floozy- I didn't have sex until well into my twenties. It gave me knowledge which I still use to this day. I am 31 and have never had a whoopsies! or UH OH! thanks to the education I received when young.

kmat 9 years, 1 month ago

Give me a break, jayhawklawrence.

Most of my family is in California (San Diego, San Fran, silicon valley, Sacramento and L.A.). Do you realize that southern Cali is actually very conservative? I'm not sure where your "friend" lived around there or what school they were attending, but to make a blanket statement about everyone in Cali is like saying everyone in KS is an ignorant redneck farmer.

And what do you consider unhealthy and destructive sexual behavior? Unwed sex not in the missionary position?

Quit blaming everyone but who is really to blame if kids aren't being raised well - the parents.

And my sister is a teacher out there. There are a lot of great school districts out there.

jafs 9 years, 1 month ago

That's not really true - our culture influences people in many ways, and movies are a significant way.

Kim Murphree 9 years, 1 month ago

Again....several of you seem to be assuming that these are unwanted pregnancies with teenage girls---this article does NOT say that---it even talks about Europeans who live together who do not marry as part of the statistics. Before we start the hairpulling and name calling, let's find out what this study is really telling us---don't you think that is a more sensible way to approach this discussion?

MyName 9 years, 1 month ago


to make a blanket statement about everyone in Cali is like saying everyone in KS is an ignorant redneck farmer

Well yeah, except you forgot to include the fact that there's like 11 times more people in California than in Kansas, which makes that statement even more dumb.


I don’t know what is going on in Iceland? They really throw a monkey wrench in my theory.

That's because your theory is dumb. People in Europe are not genetically different from people in Africa (maybe like .01% or less difference) and marriage isn't about your DNA, it's about social and economic conditions.

The majority (though not all) unwed mothers are poor and uneducated. Their potential fathers are likely unwilling or unable to support them. I mean heck, a Black man in America is more likely to go to Jail than go to College, and 1 in 6 have been through prison. Those aren't exactly the best father figures. Of course, with that many going to jail, then there's got to be some kind of screw up at a societal level.

It's actually better for other minorities (like Latinos), but if none of the guys are worth getting married to (or aren't interested in marriage), and the birth control method fails, then not getting married is pretty much the only option.

On the bright side, society has started to figure out that it's stupid to stigmatize women who get pregnant out of marriage, especially since alot of the time there aren't many good options and we still need to keep having babies.

Leslie Swearingen 9 years, 1 month ago

I made a conscious decision to be a single mother. Since someone is going to "guess", no I am not a lesbian. I simply have never met a man that I cared about enough to live with/marry/share a dwelling with. I would do the same thing all over again, but to my mind ideally I would have a computer based job at home and have the money to raise the child. I was twenty-eight when I gave birth to my one and only child and had graduated from high school and had four years of college. I have never once regretted my decision. Single mothers are as diverse as the rest of the population.

MyName 9 years, 1 month ago

The theory that all humans are the same is biggest politically correct sham in the world today.

It's also a scientific fact. And until you can go into the lab and point out a marriage gene, your "theory" is still D-U-M-B.

MyName 9 years, 1 month ago

I have never had a divorce or “unwed mother” in my family's history.

Anecdote is not the singular form of data. In fact, I would argue that it's more likely to be a social explanation because if it was genetic you would most likely have some sort of exception in your family (unless you are all inbred and have the exact same gene structure).

And, again, until you can go into the lab and point to a marriage "gene", your idea is going nowhere.

cthulhu_4_president 9 years, 1 month ago

Arumer, first Holocaust revision and now genetic profiling? I worry about you, seriously.
You are not credible, and your lack of understanding in the fields of science, history, and anthropology is obvious. Not saying that I am any more credible than you, but at least my learning in the subjects doesn't read as if it came from "mein kampf".

Mari Aubuchon 9 years, 1 month ago

Just a couple more stats:

It is estimated that about 49% of all pregnancies in the US are unplanned.

In 2007, women in their 20s had 60 percent of all babies born out of wedlock, teenagers had 23 percent and women 30 and older had 17 percent.

verity 9 years, 1 month ago

"Although researchers did research the reasons for the trend, they cited several factors that in combination likely affected the rate, including a decrease in the social stigma surrounding out-of-wedlock births, an increasing number of couples putting off or forgoing marriage, and growing numbers of financially independent, older or single women who choose to have children on their own (Washington Post, 5/14). Researchers noted that most of the increase in these births was among parents who live together but are not married (New York Times, 5/13)."

If 49% of pregnancies in the US are in fact unplanned, I think we have some educating to do. And no matter what your religious or moral beliefs are, abstinence ain't gona do it.

cthulhu_4_president 9 years, 1 month ago

"How do you explain dirt poor people who are monogamists and marry for life and raise children, if it all based on economics? "

What is this sentance supposed to imply? Anyway, I never said I was trying to explain anything, merely that your explination is wrong.

"That is typical leftist cop-out BS."

Dont' pidgeonhole me into some strawman for you to attack. I am no more a leftist than you.

"There is a genetic component"

I never said there was not, merely that there is most likely not enough of a genetic component for an ignoramus like you to be able to predict a person't attitude will be toward marriage and procreation based only on their genetic heritige. Are you a geneticist? If the answer is anything but "yes" then you can speak to me on the influence of genetics in this matter.

"I am more well travelled and well read that 99% of the earths population."

Doubtful, but good for you! I am also amazed that you know enough people to compare yourself to 99% of Earth's population.

"I am a freethinker unfettered by the political correct / politically motivated / groupthink that permeates contemporary intellectual thought."

Read: "I will believe whatever I want to believe no matter what independant, peer reviewed, fact-based evidence stands in my way. I dont' need to do any research, because I already know that I am right." Ignorance truly is bliss.

"The fact that you won’t even consider a genetic element demonstrates your small mindedness."

Again, you are regurgitating the words that you placed in my mouth. I do consider it, but there just isn't enough evidence to support that conclusion. The fact that you are unwilling to seek out information that might just contradict one of your precious self-serving worldviews is evidence of your small mindedness.

lawrencechick 9 years, 1 month ago

"Hollywood has exactly zero to do with it."

Duplenty you are the clueless one if you actually believe that. Either you don't have kids or you are part of the problem. As a parent , you can bend over backwards to raise your child right and try to keep them innocent, but the moment they leave your house they are inundated with crap from the media and from other stupid parents who think the media has no influence on kids. There used to be a time when adults would think about how what they did, or what they listened to would affect children and that time is long gone.

denak 9 years, 1 month ago

I am a single mom. I was 23 years old and in the Marine Corps when I had my son 17 years ago. After I got out of the service, I went to college and have always been employed. I have also been a foster parent for the last 6 years. Not every single parent fits the preconceived notion that she is promiscious, uneducated, lazy, and a drain on society. It is my opinion that the marital status(much like the sexual orientation) of a parent has very little, if anything, to do with how well they parent. How well a child comes out depends on a whole slew of factors not just one.

Of the 15 kids I have had as a foster parent, most came from two parent families. The only children who were sucessfully reintegrated with their parent were a sibling group of two boys who went back to their single mom.

Being a single parent is hard. I am not making excuses and saying that all is perfect. But I am convinced that a two parent family is more beneficial to the parents then to the children. A two parent family offers support to the other parent. And there are certain economic advantages in a two parent family than a single parent family. As the only breadwinner, it is highly unlikely that I will ever be able to own a home here in Lawrence. In outlying areas, certainly but not in Lawrence.

If children turn out better in the Iceland, Norway and Sweden then here is because society does not view the child as a "mistake" or "unplanned" There is a negative connotation attached to the child even before he or she is born here.


Kim Murphree 9 years, 1 month ago

Denak---I would add a caveat...a two parent family could offer more support IF the two parents are supportive of each other and there is no abusiveness in the relationship---unfortunately, many women stay in abusive relationships "for the children" when they probably would teach the children better standards if they refused to stay and be treated that way... setting those boundaries as an example to the children is certainly a way to break that awful cycle.

RedwoodCoast 9 years, 1 month ago

"Mr_Nancy_Boy_To_You (Tom Shewmon) says…

Beatrice, my comment was a spoofy take on the circa 68-70 liberal upheaval and where it has taken us. So here we are. Wow!"

Maybe you should have done a spoofy take on Bush-era abstinence-only sex ed. See where it has taken us? So here we are, nowhere!

Leslie Swearingen 9 years, 1 month ago

What about the women who are truly happy being single and don't want to be punished for having a child by being forced to have a husband? Maybe there is a rise in single parenthood because people are more honest with themselves and others. I had a lot of fun and thoroughly enjoyed being a single mom. Long winded arguments and stats are not going to change that. Having said that, the Obama family is a great inspiration. I can see how much the girls love their father and he them. I can see how wonderful such a family must be, but I never saw that until I saw them. Maybe I would have been a "better" woman if I had met a "better" man.

Corey Williams 9 years, 1 month ago

ArumerZwarteHoop (Anonymous) says… "I am more well travelled and well read that 99% of the earths population. If I am in any way “ignorant” I frown for the future of the earth."

From the spelling and grammar errors in all of your posts, you better start frowning.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 1 month ago

Unmarried births is no indication that the dad hit the road.

pace 9 years, 1 month ago

i think husbands aren't worth it. Now days, they want a wife that has a good job, takes care of the house, takes care of the children and who will put up with their need to be dogs. Easier to start without them than to put your self through a divorce while you are working, cleaning, tending and doing community work. The good ones are worth marrying or worth having children with though.

hawklet21 9 years, 1 month ago

I am really surprised that I haven't noticed any comments about cohabitation (I skimmed, sorry if I missed one.) I have lived with my boyfriend for a few years, and if we had to deal with an unplanned pregnancy our focus would be on the baby rather than "Oh no! We have to get married now!" We're not very religious, like a lot of people, so it just isn't a big deal to be/get married. It's 2009, folks.

WHY 9 years, 1 month ago

whose my daddy??

Don't worry about it. It is 2009 kid.

cozy 9 years, 1 month ago

"Researchers noted that most of the increase in these births was among parents who live together but are not married (New York Times, 5/13)"

This would be my fiance and I. Weve been engaged for quite a while and were expecting. (Engaged for a yr and a half before expecting) For insurance reasons we have decided to wait to get married until after we have the baby. Also, if you have someone that you know that you are going to spend your life with, the little piece of paper saying what you already know seems a little glorified. To me at least, getting married and getting that piece of paper is not like a permission slip to move on with your future. Who can really say what is best for you other than you?

mrbig 9 years, 1 month ago

I recently had a baby when I wasn't married. I had it right after I finished my last semester at KU. I also got married 5 days after I had her. The only reason that I couldn't get married before I had my daughter was because it is virtually impossible to get health insurance when you are pregnant. I couldn't get on state insurance, and if I got married then I couldn't be on my parent's insurance anymore. I don't think this makes me any less of a parent- or any reason that I should be judged as different from parents who had children in wedlock.

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