Indicators of Welfare Dependence: Annual Report to Congress, 2000. Figure BIRTH 1. Percentage of Births to Unmarried Women, by Age Group: 1940-98

03/01/2000

Figure BIRTH 1. Percentage of Births to Unmarried Women, by Age Group: 1940-98

Figure BIRTH 1. Percentage of Births to Unmarried Women, by Age Group: 1940-98

Sources: Ventura, S.J., National Center for Health Statistics, “Births to Unmarried Mothers: United States, 1980 - 1992,” Vital and Health Statistics, Series 21, No. 53, 1995; Ventura, S.J., Martin, J.A., Curtin, S.C., Mathews, T.J., National Center for Health Statistics, “Births: Final Data for 1997,” National Vital Statistics Reports, Vol. 47(18), 1999; Martin, J.A., Smith, B.L, Mathews, T.J., Ventura, S.J., National Center for Health Statistics, “Births and Deaths: Preliminary Data for 1998,” National Vital Statistics Reports, Vol. 47(25), 1999.


  • The percentage of children born outside of marriage to women of all ages has increased over the past half-century, from 4 percent in 1940 to 33 percent in 1998. This increase reflects changes in several factors: the rate at which unmarried women have children, the rate at which married women have children, and the rate at which women marry.
  • The percentage of children born outside of marriage is especially high among teen women, as shown in Figure BIRTH 1. Among teens, close to four-fifths (79 percent) of births were outside of marriage in 1998. The comparable percentage for all women is 33 percent.
  • Figure BIRTH 1 shows that the percentage of unmarried births to all women has leveled off since 1994. Growth in the percentage of unmarried births to teen mothers has also
    slowed since 1994, but it is still rising (from 76 percent in 1994 to 79 percent in 1997).
  • The trend toward leveling off has occurred among black teens and all black women while among white teens and all white women the trend continues upward (see Table B-1 in Appendix B for non-marital birth data by age and race).

Table BIRTH 1. Percentage of Births to Unmarried Women, by Age Group: 1940-98

  Under 15 15-17 Years 18-19 Years All Teens All Women
1940 64.5 N/A N/A 14.0 3.8
1941 64.1 N/A N/A 14.2 3.8
1942 64.5 N/A N/A 13.2 3.4
1943 64.2 N/A N/A 13.4 3.3
1944 64.5 N/A N/A 15.7 3.8
1945 70.0 N/A N/A 18.2 4.3
1946 66.4 N/A N/A 15.7 3.8
1947 65.1 N/A N/A 13.0 3.6
1948 61.4 20.8 8.5 12.7 3.7
1949 61.8 21.1 8.6 12.9 3.7
1950 63.7 22.6 9.4 13.9 4.0
1951 62.9 21.8 9.1 13.5 3.9
1952 63.6 22.8 9.2 14.0 3.9
1953 64.0 22.3 9.6 14.1 4.1
1954 64.4 23.2 10.1 14.7 4.4
1955 66.3 23.2 10.3 14.9 4.5
1956 66.1 23.0 10.0 14.6 4.6
1957 66.1 23.1 9.8 14.5 4.7
1958 66.2 23.3 10.3 14.9 5.0
1959 67.9 24.2 10.6 15.4 5.2
1960 67.8 24.0 10.7 15.4 5.3
1961 69.7 25.3 11.3 16.2 5.6
1962 69.5 26.7 11.3 16.4 5.9
1963 71.1 28.2 12.5 18.0 6.3
1964 74.2 29.9 13.5 19.7 6.8
1965 78.5 32.8 15.3 21.6 7.7
1966 76.3 35.3 16.1 22.6 8.4
1967 80.3 37.7 18.0 25.0 9.0
1968 81.0 40.4 20.1 27.6 9.7
1969 79.3 41.3 21.1 28.7 10.0
1970 80.8 43.0 22.4 30.5 10.7
1971 82.1 44.5 23.2 31.8 11.3
1972 81.9 45.9 24.7 33.8 12.4
1973 84.8 46.7 25.6 35.0 13.0
1974 84.6 48.3 27.0 36.4 13.2
1975 87.0 51.4 29.8 39.3 14.2
1976 86.4 54.0 31.6 41.2 14.8
1977 88.2 56.6 34.4 43.8 15.5
1978 87.3 57.5 36.2 44.9 16.3
1979 88.8 60.0 38.1 46.9 17.1
1980 88.7 61.5 39.8 48.3 18.4
1981 89.2 63.3 41.4 49.9 18.9
1982 89.2 65.0 43.0 51.4 19.4
1983 90.4 67.5 45.7 54.1 20.3
1984 91.1 69.2 48.1 56.3 21.0
1985 91.8 70.9 50.7 58.7 22.0
1986 92.5 73.3 53.6 61.5 23.4
1987 92.9 75.8 56.0 64.0 24.5
1988 93.6 77.1 58.5 65.9 25.7
1989 92.4 77.7 60.4 67.2 27.1
1990 91.6 77.7 61.3 67.6 28.0
1991 91.3 78.7 63.2 69.3 29.5
1992 91.3 79.2 64.6 70.5 30.1
1993 91.3 79.9 66.1 71.8 31.0
1994 94.5 84.1 70.0 75.9 32.6
1995 93.5 83.7 69.8 75.6 32.2
1996 93.8 84.4 70.8 76.3 32.4
1997 95.7 86.7 72.5 78.2 32.4
1998 96.5 87.4 73.5 78.8 32.8

Notes: Births to unmarried women in the United States for 1940 - 1979 are estimated from data for registration areas in which marital status of the mother was reported; see sources below. Beginning in 1980, births to unmarried women in the United States are based on data from states reporting marital status directly and data from non-reporting states for which marital status was inferred from other information on the birth certificate; see sources below. Data for 1998 are preliminary.

Sources: Ventura, S.J., National Center for Health Statistics, “Births to Unmarried Mothers: United States, 1980 - 1992,” Vital and Health Statistics, Series 21, No. 53, 1995; Ventura, S.J., Martin, J.A., Curtin, S.C., Mathews, T.J., National Center for Health Statistics, “Births: Final Data for 1997,” National Vital Statistics Reports, Vol. 47(18), 1999; Martin, J.A., Smith, B.L, Mathews, T.J., Ventura, S.J., National Center for Health Statistics, “Births and Deaths: Preliminary Data for 1998,” National Vital Statistics Reports, Vol. 47(25), 1999.

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