New York Times: For Younger Mothers, Out-of-Wedlock Births Are the New Normal
As of 2009, more than half of all children born to women under 30 were born to unmarried women.
Unmarried mothers, in some areas, have become the norm, no longer stigmatized by society. Regular readers of this blog will know that while births among teenagers are down in recent years, the majority of commenters here, at least, would support, not shun, a teenager of their acquaintance with a baby. That tolerance clearly extends to all unmarried mothers. Many of us pride ourselves on the modernity of this relatively new way of thinking — who would insist that only a family mirroring some 50’s-sitcom image of “nuclear” can raise a happy, healthy child?
But is our pride misplaced? Fifty-three percent of all children born to women under 30 is an awful lot of children born outside of what’s been considered, for more than a handful of years, the most stable family structure. ...
... Overwhelmingly, the more educated you are, the more likely you are to marry before having children. Bearing children outside of wedlock is a trend that’s most strongly affecting young adults who are already at an economic disadvantage, and that means that its impact is deeply tangled within a host of other problems, from the decline in blue-collar jobs to the difficulty of finding affordable child care. ...
There is a lot of talk today about income inequality today. It is worth noting that the poverty rate for two parent families, families headed by a father only, and families headed by a mother only have all declined significantly in recent years. Yet the overall rate of poverty, and especially poverty for children has gone up. How is that possible?
The poverty rate for a two-parent household is very low, something around 4.5%. That is down from 6.5% three decades ago. The poverty rate for female headed households has declined from the mid-30% range to about 30%. What has changed is that the share of households that are female headed has grown by a third. And as the article indicates, this trend is most pronounced among those who are at the bottom end of the economic ladder, further depressing the chances of children raised in this environment from achieving any economic mobility.
The devolution of family is almost certainly on of the major contributors to rising income inequality and decreasing economic moblity.