The first statistical table for each state presents information related to marriage and childbearing. Rates of nonmarital childbearing vary substantially by state and these rates may provide useful guidance to policymakers as they design healthy marriage programs. For example, states such as Louisiana, New Mexico, and Mississippi have very high rates of nonmarital childbearing. Therefore, these states may want to place a particular focus on unmarried expectant partners when designing their marriage programs. By contrast, states such as Utah, Idaho, and New Hampshire have low rates of nonmarital childbearing and thus may not want to target this population statewide. In addition to this variation among states, rates of nonmarital childbearing vary substantially among demographic groups. For example, in many states, the percentage of births to unmarried women is highest among women who are younger, less educated, and from racial or ethnic minority groups. Therefore, policymakers might want to target these groups when designing healthy marriage programs for unmarried expectant parents.
The statistics included in this table are based on analyses of 2004 data from the National Center for Health Statistics. The key statistics are as follows:
- Number of Births to Unmarried Women. Reported in the first column of the table, this statistic is an annual measure that includes all births registered to unmarried women in 2004. The second column in the table reports the total number of births to all women in the state, regardless of marital status.
- Percentage of Births to Unmarried Women. Reported in the third column of the table, this statistic expresses the number of births to unmarried women (column 1) as a percentage of the total number of births to all women (column 2). Higher numbers correspond to a higher percentage of births to unmarried women. This statistic was used to determine the overall ranking of states by the percentage of births to unmarried women, reported on the summary sheet for each state. The ranking of states by percentage of births to unmarried women is also displayed near the end of the guide in Appendix A.
- Subgroup Estimates for Selected Demographic Groups. The rows of the table report separate estimates for key population subgroups, defined by the mothers demographic characteristics. The subgroup estimates for geographic areas report separate statistics for the one or two largest counties in each state, as well as a combined estimate for all other counties. This county-level information is available for all states except Wyoming (see Technical Appendix for details).
- Regional and National Benchmark Estimates. The far right-hand columns of the table show how the percentage of births to unmarried women in the state compares to regional and national averages. The national averages include data for all 50 states. The regional estimates are based on the standard nine geographic divisions defined by the U.S. Census Bureau (Figure I.1).
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