Indicators of Welfare Dependence: Annual Report to Congress, 2001 . Non-marital Birth Risk Factor 1. Births to Unmarried Women

03/01/2001

Figure BIRTH 1. Percentage of Births to Unmarried Women, by Age Group: 1940-1999

Figure BIRTH 1.  Percentage of Births to Unmarried Women, by Age Group: 1940-1999

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, “Nonmarital Childbearing in the United States, 1940 - 1999,” National Vital Health Statistics Reports, Vol. 48 (16), 2000; “Births: Final Data for 1998,” National Vital Statistics Reports, Vol. 48(3), 2000; “Births: Final Data for 1999,” National Vital Statistics Reports, Vol. 49(1), 2001.


  • 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 1999.  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.  Close to four-fifths (79 percent) of all births to teens took place outside of marriage in 1999.

  • After fifty years of growth, 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 1999).

  • Recently, the percentage of out-of-wedlock births has leveled off among black teens and all black women.  Among white teens and all white women, the trend continues upward (see Table C-1 in Appendix C for non-marital birth data by age and race).

Table BIRTH 1. Percentage of Births to Unmarried Women, by Age Group: 1940-1999

  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 96.6 87.5 73.6 78.9 32.8
1999 96.5 87.7 74.0 79.0 33.0

Note: Trends in non-marital births may be affected by changes in the reporting of marital status on birth certificates and in procedures for inferring non-marital births when marital statue is not reported.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, “Nonmarital Childbearing in the United States, 1940 - 1999,” National Vital Health Statistics Reports, Vol. 48 (16), 2000;  National Center for Health Statistics, “Births: Final Data for 1998,” National Vital Statistics Reports, Vol. 48(3), 2000; National Center for Health Statistics, “Births: Preliminary Data for 1999,” National Vital Statistics Reports, Vol. 48(14), 2000.

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