Changes in child-bearing, marriage emerge in study

On behalf of The Marks Law Firm, L.L.C. posted in Divorce on Thursday, April 12, 2012

A rapidly increasing percentage of firstborn children have unmarried parents, according to new government figures.

The pattern is reflected in Missouri and across the nation, with an 83 percent increase from 2006 to 2010, according to a statistical analysis by the National Center for Health Statistics. Many experts believe the surge is due to the recession; couples are avoiding the expense of marriage and eliminating the possibility of divorce by remaining unmarried.

The lead author of the report said researchers were “a little surprised in such a short time period to see these increases.”

In 2002, 12 percent of first births were to unmarried women living with men. By 2006-2010, the percentage had nearly doubled, surging to 22 percent.

The research was based on in-person interviews with 12,279 women and 10,403 men between the ages of 15 and 44.

A sociologist interviewed by USA Today about the study said she believes the rapid rise is due to “economic shock” rather than a sudden, dramatic shift in values.

“In a perfect world, they would prefer to be married,” she said. “But where the economy is now, they’re not going to be able to get married, and they don’t want to wait to have kids.”

She said that just because the couples believe they can’t afford weddings doesn’t mean they can’t be good parents.

“You can be a good parent if you don’t have a lot of money. You can be with someone who can be a good parent.”

Another sociologist interviewed for the article said she’s noticing women with higher education levels are also having children before getting married.

There are two parents present, but not a marriage, she said.

Source: USA Today: “More children born to unmarried parents,” April 11, 2012

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