Trends in the Well-Being of America's Children and Youth, 2000. PF 1.7 Percentage of All Births to Unmarried Women

01/01/2000

Children who are born to single women, regardless of the age of the women, are considerably more likely than children born to two parents to grow up poor, to spend large portions of their childhood without two parents, and to become single parents themselves.

Differences by Age. Nonmarital childbearing increased among women of all age groups between 1960 and 1994 before dropping off modestly in 1995 (see Figure PF 1.7.A). However, data for 1996 through 1999 show continued increases for women ages 15 through 19, 20 through 24, and 25 through 29. Younger mothers are far more likely than older mothers to be unmarried. In 1999, 78.6 percent of births to women ages 15 through 19 were to unmarried women. In contrast, 48.4 percent of births to women ages 20 through 24 were to unmarried women, and only 13.9 percent of births to women ages 30 through 34 were to unmarried women (see Table PF 1.7.A). Bearing children outside of marriage is a particularly troubling development for teenagers because these young women often have little education and lack the ability to support their families economically, especially as single parents.

Nonmarital births as a percent of all births have increased among teens of all ages and across all racial and ethnic groups since 1960 (see Figures PF 1.7.A and B). Among all young women ages 15 through 19, 15 percent of births were nonmarital in 1960, compared with 79 percent in 1999 (see Table PF 1.7.B). The percentage of births to teens that occurred outside of marriage rose fairly steadily through 1999; however, the rather sharp increase between 1993 and 1994 (from 71 to 75 percent) is largely the result of improvements in the identification of nonmarital births in two states: Texas and Michigan.3

Differences by Race and Hispanic Origin. The percentage of all births to unmarried women increased for whites, blacks, American Indians, and Hispanics between 1980 and 1998 (see Table PF 1.7.A). Asian women have experienced a steady increase in the percentage of all births to unmarried women from 1980 to 1996, but the percentage decreased in 1997 and was unchanged in 1998.

In 1998, Asian and white women had the lowest percentage of nonmarital births at 15.6 and 21.9 percent, respectively. Hispanics were next at 41.6 percent, followed by American Indian and black women at 59.3 percent and 69.3 percent, respectively. This ordering is the same for most age groups, though the size of the difference can vary substantially by the age of the mother. For young women ages 15 through 19 in 1999, for example, whites and Hispanics have very similar percentages of births to unmarried women—72.6 and 72.9 percent, respectively—while the percentage among young black women ages 15 through 19 is much higher at 95.4 percent. By ages 25 through 29, however, percentages for Hispanic women move midway between white and black rates, with whites at 13.8 percent, Hispanics at 32.0 percent, and blacks at 56.7 percent (see Table PF 1.7.A).

Figure PF 1.7.A. Percentage of all births to unmarried women in the United States, by age: 1960-1999.

Figure PF 1.7.A Percentage of all births to unmarried women in the United States, by age: 1960-1999

Sources: Ventura, et al., 2000, Births, Tables 17, 18, 19, and 21; Ventura, 1995, Births to Unmarried Mothers, Table 5; Ventura, et al., 1997, Natality, 1996, Table 17; Also previous issues of this annual report (volume 45, no.11; volume 44, no. 11; volume 44, no. 3, Table 14 in each); Ventura, et al., 1999, Births, Table 17; Ventura, et al., 2000, Births, Table 17; Curtin & Martin, 2000, Table C; unpublished data from S. Ventura, National Center for Health Statistics.


Table PF 1.7.A. Percentage of all live births to unmarried women in the United States, by race and Hispanic origin and by age: 1960-1999

  1960 1965 1970 1975 1980b 1985 1990 1991a 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
All races
   All ages 5.3 7.7 10.7 14.3 18.4 22.0 28.0 29.5 30.1 31.0 32.6 32.2 32.4 32.4 32.8 33.0

Ages 15-19

14.8 20.8 29.5 38.2 47.6 58.0 67.1 68.8 70.0 71.3 75.5 75.2 75.9 77.8 78.5 78.6

Ages 20-24

4.8 6.8 8.9 12.3 19.4 26.3 36.9 39.4 40.7 42.2 44.9 44.7 45.6 46.6 47.7 48.4

Ages 25-29

2.9 4.0 4.1 5.4 9.0 12.7 18.0 19.2 19.8 20.7 21.8 21.5 22.0 22.0 22.5 22.8

Ages 30-34

2.8 3.7 4.5 5.3 7.5 9.7 13.3 14.0 14.3 14.7 15.1 14.7 14.8 14.1 14.0 13.9

Ages 35-39

3.0 4.0 5.2 7.0 9.4 11.2 13.9 14.6 15.2 15.6 16.1 15.7 15.7 14.6 14.4 14.3
Whitea
   All ages 2.3 4.0 5.7 7.3 11.2 14.7 16.9 18.0 18.6 19.5 20.8 21.2 21.5 21.5 21.9 22.0

Ages 15-19

7.2 11.4 17.1 22.9 33.1 44.8 55.6 57.8 59.8 62.3 66.6 67.9 69.3 70.9 71.9 72.6

Ages 20-24

2.2 3.8 5.2 6.1 11.7 17.7 24.5 26.8 28.3 30.1 32.5 33.3 34.4 35.3 36.4 37.1

Ages 25-29

1.1 1.9 2.1 2.6 5.2 8.1 9.7 10.4 10.7 11.4 12.4 12.7 13.2 13.3 13.6 13.8

Ages 30-34

1.0 1.6 2.1 2.7 4.6 6.3 6.9 7.3 7.5 7.8 8.2 8.3 8.4 7.9 7.9 7.8

Ages 35-39

1.3 1.9 2.7 3.9 6.4 8.1 7.8 8.2 8.5 8.9 9.4 9.4 9.6 8.8 8.8 8.7
Blacka
   All ages 37.6 48.8 56.1 61.2 66.7 68.2 68.4 68.9 70.7 70.0 70.0 69.4 69.3 68.8

Ages 15-19

62.7 76.9 85.7 90.2 92.1 92.5 92.8 93.1 95.5 95.3 95.5 95.8 95.8 95.4

Ages 20-24

31.3 43.0 57.0 65.4 72.8 74.9 75.4 76.9 79.2 79.3 79.9 80.0 80.5 80.4

Ages 25-29

20.3 26.8 36.8 45.2 53.4 54.9 55.1 55.9 57.5 56.8 57.5 56.9 57.1 56.7

Ages 30-34

19.6 24.1 29.6 37.0 45.2 46.6 46.7 46.9 47.4 46.5 45.6 44.1 43.6 43.2

Ages 35-39

18.6 23.9 28.4 35.1 42.1 43.8 44.7 44.8 45.7 45.3 44.2 42.5 41.6 40.8
Hispanicb
   All ages 23.6 29.5 36.7 38.5 39.1 40.0 43.1 40.8 40.7 40.9 41.6 42.1

Ages 15-19

41.9 51.3 59.4 61.2 61.9 62.8 69.7 67.3 67.7 71.6 72.9 72.9

Ages 20-24

23.8 30.9 39.6 41.5 42.3 43.4 47.0 45.0 45.2 46.1 47.5 48.5

Ages 25-29

15.9 22.2 28.6 30.3 30.8 31.7 33.2 31.1 31.2 30.4 31.2 32.0

Ages 30-34

15.2 19.6 25.5 26.6 27.2 27.5 28.6 26.4 26.0 24.6 24.4 25.0

Ages 35-39

16.2 20.8 26.5 27.6 28.5 29.0 30.3 27.4 26.9 25.7 24.7 25.3
Asian/Pacific Islandera
   All ages 7.3 9.5 13.2 13.9 14.7 15.7 16.2 16.3 16.7 15.6 15.6

Ages 15-19

40.6 47.7 57.0 58.4 59.6 60.7 62.7 63.1 62.7 72.0 72.1

Ages 20-24

10.9 15.5 23.5 25.1 27.0 29.0 30.0 30.1 31.0 31.8 32.4

Ages 25-29

4.2 5.7 8.3 8.8 9.6 10.6 11.3 12.1 12.9 11.5 11.4

Ages 30-34

3.0 4.6 6.3 6.4 7.1 7.7 8.0 8.0 8.9 6.6 6.4

Ages 35-39

4.0 5.8 7.5 7.9 8.4 9.0 8.8 8.9 9.2 6.9 6.5
American Indiana
   All ages 39.2 46.8 53.6 55.3 55.3 55.8 57.0 57.2 58.0 58.7 59.3

Ages 15-19

61.9 72.5 78.9 79.1 80.3 80.6 82.9 82.5 84.1 84.4 85.9

Ages 20-24

38.6 48.5 57.2 58.7 58.6 59.5 60.6 60.7 61.7 63.2 63.3

Ages 25-29

28.1 35.9 43.2 45.2 45.3 45.2 45.5 45.7 46.4 47.3 47.6

Ages 30-34

22.2 31.8 38.3 39.0 39.6 40.0 40.6 40.6 41.4 41.2 42.0

Ages 35-39

22.5 27.7 35.5 38.8 38.2 38.1 38.5 40.6 40.1 40.3 41.1

a Beginning in 1980, births were tabulated by race and ethnicity of the mother. Prior to 1980, births were tabulated by race of child, assigning a child to the race of the nonwhite parent, if any, or to the race of the father, if both are nonwhite. Data for black and white births include births of Hispanic origin until 1990. Beginning 1990, persons of Hispanic origin are not included, except in 1999 where figures for blacks include Hispanics

b Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race. Data for Hispanics have been available only since 1980, with 22 states reporting in 1980, representing 90 percent of the Hispanic population. Hispanic birth data were reported by 23 states and the District of Columbia in 1985; 48 states and the District of Columbia in 1990; 49 states and the District of Columbia in 1991 and 1992; and all 50 states and the District of Columbia since 1993

Sources: Curtin, & Martin, 2000, Table C; Ventura, et al., 2000. Births, Table 17; Tables 17, 18, 19, and 21; Ventura, et al., 1999, Births, Table 17; Ventura, 1995, Table 5; Ventura, et al., 1998, Natality, Table 17. Also previous issues of this annual report (Volume 45, no. 11; Volume 44, no. 11; Volume 44, no. 3, Table 14 in each); Ventura, Births, 1985, Tables 6 and 7; Ventura, 1983, Table 11; unpublished data from S. Ventura, National Center for Health Statistics.


Figure PF 1.7.B. Percentage of all births to unmarried women ages 15 through 19 in the United States, by racea and Hispanic origin:b 1960-1999

Figure PF 1.7.B Percentage of all births to unmarried women ages 15 through 19 in the United States, by racea and Hispanic origin:b 1960-1999

a Beginning in 1980, births were tabulated by race and ethnicity of the mother. Prior to 1980, births were tabulated by race of child, assigning a child to the race of the nonwhite parent, if any, or to the race of the father, if both are nonwhite. Data for black and white births include births of Hispanic origin until 1990. Beginning 1990, persons of Hispanic origin are not included, except in 1999 where figures for blacks include Hispanics.

b Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race. Data for Hispanics have been available only since 1980, with 22 states reporting in 1980, representing 90 percent of the Hispanic population. Hispanic birth data were reported by 23 states and the District of Columbia in 1985; 48 states and the District of Columbia in 1990; 49 states and the District of Columbia in 1991 and 1992; and all 50 states and the District of Columbia since 1993.

Sources: Ventura, et al., 2000, Births, Tables 17, 18, 19, and 21; Ventura, 1995, Table 5; Ventura & Curtin, 1999, Table 17; Ventura, et al., 1999, Births, Table 17; Ventura, et al., 2000 Births, Tables 2, 7, and 17; also unpublished data, National Center for Health Statistics.


Table PF 1.7.B. Percentage of all births to unmarried women ages 15 through 19 in the United States, by age of mother and by racea and Hispanic origin: Selected years, 1960-1999

  1960 1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994c 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
All races

Ages 15-17

24 33 43 51 62 71 78 79 79 80 84 84 84 87 88 88

Ages 18 or 19

11 15 22 30 40 51 61 63 65 66 70 70 71 73 74 74

Ages 15-19

15 21 30 38 48 58 67 69 70 71 75 75 76 78 79 79
Whitea

Ages 15-17

12 17 25 33 45 58 68 70 72 73 78 79 81 83 83 83

Ages 18 or 19

5 9 14 17 27 38 50 52 54 57 61 62 64 65 67 67

Ages 15-19

7 11 17 23 33 45 56 58 60 62 67 68 69 71 72 73
Blacka

Ages 15-17

76 87 93 96 96 96 96 96 98 98 98 98 98 98

Ages 18 or 19

52 68 80 86 90 90 91 91 94 93 94 94 94 94

Ages 15-19

63 77 86 90 92 93 93 93 96 95 96 96 96 95
Hispanicb

Ages 15-17

51 61 68 69 69 70 77 75 75 80 82 82

Ages 18 or 19

36 46 54 56 57 58 65 62 63 66 67 67

Ages 15-19

42 51 59 61 62 63 70 67 68 72 73 73

a Beginning in 1980, births were tabulated by race and ethnicity of the mother. Prior to 1980, births were tabulated by race of child, assigning a child to the race of the nonwhite parent, if any, or to the race of the father, if both are nonwhite. Data for black and white births include births of Hispanic origin until 1990. Beginning 1990, persons of Hispanic origin are not included, except in 1999 where figures for blacks include Hispanics.

b Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race. Data for Hispanics have been available only since 1980, with 22 states reporting in 1980, representing 90 percent of the Hispanic population. Hispanic birth data were reported by 23 states and the District of Columbia in 1985; 48 states and the District of Columbia in 1990; 49 states and the District of Columbia in 1991 and 1992; and all 50 states and the District of Columbia since 1993.

c Increases between 1993 and 1994 were due primarily to improvements in the identification of nonmarital births in Texas and Michigan

Sources: Ventura, 1995, Table 5; Ventura, & Curtin, 1999, Table 3; Ventura, et al., 1999, Table 17; Ventura, et al., 2000, Births, Tables 2, 7, and 17. Also unpublished data from S. Ventura, National Center for Health Statistics.


3 Ventura, S.J., Martin, J.A., Mathews, T.J.,& Clarke, S.C. 1996. Advance Report of Final Natality Statistics, 1994. Monthly Vital Statistics Report, 44, (11, Supp.). Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics.

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