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More Unmarried Women Are Having Babies




By Margarita Nahapetyan

The number of women in their 20s and 30s, who give birth to babies without being married, has sharply increased in the United States, according to the latest report from the U.S. officials.

In America, 40 per cent of births are now to women out of wedlock, and the majority of these are to women in their 20s, not teenagers, says a report, titled Changing Patterns of Non-marital Childbearing in the United States, which was released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The statistics indicate that more than 1.7 million children were born to unmarried mothers in 2007, a 26 per cent increase compared to the numbers in 2002 and more than twice the number in 1980, when the rate of out-of-wedlock births was 18 per cent. The raise reflected a 21 per cent jump in the rates of not married mothers giving birth, which increased from 43.7 births per 1,000 women in 2002 to nearly 53 births per 1,000 women. "It has been a huge increase - a dramatic increase. It is quite striking," said Stephanie Ventura, director of the Reproductive Statistics Branch at the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, who led the analysis of birth certificate data nationwide.

Before 1970, the majority of out-of-wedlock mothers used to be teenage girls. But in the past few years the birth rates among unwed young women in their 20s and 30s has drastically increased. In 2007, 60 per cent of births to women with the ages between 20 and 24 years were non-marital, up from 52 per cent in 2002, teenagers had 23 per cent and women older than 30 had 17 per cent. Nearly 32.2 per cent of births to women aged 25 to 29 years were non-marital, up from 25.3 per cent in 2002.

According to the report, birth rates for out-of-wedlock Hispanic women, 106 births per 1,000 unmarried mothers in 2006, and African-American women, 72 births per 1,000 unmarried mothers, appeared to be the highest. Birth rates for unmarried non-Hispanic white females (32 births per 1,000 women) and Asian or Pacific Islander mothers (26 births per 1,000 women) were significantly lower.

From 1995 to 2002, the birth rates for unmarried black mothers dropped by 12 per cent. There was no significant change in the rates for non-Hispanic white and Hispanic mothers during these years. In the last years, from 2002 to 2006, birth rates for unwed non-Hispanic white women rose by 14 per cent and for African American women by 9 per cent, while the rates increased by 20 per cent for Hispanic women and 24 per cent for API women.

The report also showed that among 14 countries analyzed by the National Center for Health Statistics, the percentage of all live births to unmarried women in the United States - 40 per cent in 2007 - ranks somewhere in the middle. Other countries include Iceland (66 per cent), Sweden (55 per cent), Norway (54 per cent), France (50 per cent), Denmark (46 per cent) and the United Kingdom (44 per cent).

Countries with lower rates of unwed births other than the United States include Ireland (33 per cent), Germany (30 per cent), Canada (30 per cent), Spain (28 per cent), Italy (21 per cent) and Japan (2 per cent). The majority of births to teenage girls are to teens who are not married. For those with the ages between 15 and 17 years, 93 per cent of births are out-of-wedlock, as are 84 per cent of births to teenagers between 18 and 19 years.



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