New Research: Twenty-Something Moms are More Likely to be Single


Are younger moms more likely to be single?

I came across an issue of The New York Times that featured the results of a study which found that, among women under age 30, a majority (53 percent) were unwed when they gave birth. The article went on to cite studies which say that offspring of single mothers “face elevated risks of falling into poverty, failing in school or suffering emotional and behavioral problems.”

But there’s one group that doesn’t fall in line with the trend – college graduates. “[C]ollege graduates, who overwhelmingly marry before having children . . . That is turning family structure into a new class divide, with the economic and social rewards of marriage increasingly reserved for people with the most education.”

When the birth numbers were crunched according to ethnicity, the number of children born outside of marriage varied. Seventy-three percent of African-American babies, 53 percent of Latino children and 29 percent of white offspring are born out of wedlock.

When it comes to educational achievement, it was found that eight percent of college educated women, 38 percent of women with some college and 57 percent of women with a high school diploma “or less” have children before getting married.

But writer Katie Roiphe doesn’t think the news is bad. Writing in Slate, Roiphe, a single mother, said the Times’ piece was “subtly condescending.” “. . . [O]ne has to recognize that marriage is very rapidly becoming only one way to raise children,” she wrote.

“. . . [O]ne of the reasons children born outside of marriage suffer is the culturally ubiquitous idea that there is something wrong or abnormal about their situation,” Roiphe said. “Once it becomes clear that there is, at least, nothing abnormal about their situation . . . the psychological landscape, at least, will be vastly transformed. Even people who are certain that the children of single mothers are always and forever doomed to a compromised existence, are going to have to await more information about a world in which these kids are not considered illegitimate or unconventional or outsiders, where the sheer number of them redefines and refreshes our ideas of family.”

What do you think? Will the perception change as single parent homes become more the norm?