Trends in the Well-Being of America's Children and Youth, 1997. SD 4.8 Teen non-marital births

04/01/1997

Nonmarital childbearing has consequences for the child, the parent, and society. Raising a child is a challenging task, even for two parents. A large body of research suggests that the absence of a father is associated with negative outcomes for children when they grow up.58 For example, studies have linked growing up with a single parent to lower educational attainment for the child.59 About 30 percent of nonmarital births are to teenagers. Bearing children outside of marriage is a particularly troubling development for this age group because these young women often have little education and lack the ability to support their families economically, especially as a single parent.

Nonmarital childbearing has increased among teens of all ages and across all racial and ethnic groups since 1960 (see Figure SD 4.8). Among all teens aged 15-19, 15 percent of births were nonmarital in 1960, compared to 75 percent in 1994 (see Table SD 4.8). The percentage of births to teens that occurred outside of marriage has risen fairly steadily and in 1994 reached 75 percent. However, the rather sharp increase between 1993 and 1994 (from 71 to 75 percent) is largely if not completely the result of improvements in the identification of nonmarital births in two states, Texas and Michigan.60

Differences by Race.61 Nonmarital childbearing is higher among black teens than among white and Hispanic teens. In 1994, 95 percent of births to black females aged 15-19 were nonmarital, compared to 68 percent for whites and 70 percent for Hispanics.

Differences by Age. Younger teens who give birth are more likely to be unmarried when they deliver than are older teens in each year and across race/ethnic groups. In 1994, 84 percent of births to 15-17 year olds were to unmarried mothers, compared with 70 percent among 18-19 year olds.
 

Figure SD 4.8  
Percentage of Teen Birthsa Ages 15-19 to Unmarried Teens Ages 15-19: 1960-1994e 

SD4_8.GIF

Notes: aBirths by race of mother 1980-1994. Tabulations prior to 1980 were by race of child, which assigns the child to the race of the nonwhite parent, if any, or to the race of the father, if both are nonwhite.
bIncludes persons of Hispanic origin.
cPersons of Hispanic origin may be of any race.
dData for Hispanics have been available only since 1980, with 22 states reporting in 1980, representing 90% of the Hispanic population. Hispanic birth data was reported by 23 states and DC in 1985; 48 states and DC in 1990; 49 states and DC in 1991 and 1992; and all states in 1993 and 1994.
eIncreases between 1993 and 1994 were due primarily to improvements in the identification of non-marital births in Texas and Michigan.

Sources: Ventura S.J. Births to Unmarried Mothers: United States, 1992. National Center for Health Statistics. Vital and Health Statistics, Series 21, No. 53. 1993; Ventura S.J., Martin, J.A. Mathews, T.J. Clarke, S.C. Advance Report of Final Natality Statistics, 1994. Monthly Vital Statistics Report, Vol. 44, No. 11, Supplement. Hyattsville, Maryland: National Center for Health Statistics. 1996. Also previous issues of this annual report.
 
 

Table SD 4.8 
Nonmarital Births: Percentage of All Teen Births to Unmarried Teens, by Age and Race/Ethnicity of Mother: 1960-1994

                         
   
1960
1965
1970
1975
1980a
1985a
1990a
1991a
1992a
1993a
1994a,e
   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
All Races
  Ages 15-17
24
33
43
51
62
71
78
79
79
80
84
  Ages 18-19
11
15
22
30
40
51
61
63
65
66
70
  Ages 15-19
15
21
30
38
48
58
67
69
70
71
75
                         
Whiteb
  Ages 15-17
12
17
25
33
45
58
68
70
71
72
78
  Ages 18-19
5
9
14
17
27
38
51
53
55
57
62
  Ages 15-19
7
11
17
23
33
45
56
59
60
62
68
                         
Blackb
  Ages 15-17
--
--
76
87
93
96
96
96
96
96
98
  Ages 18-19
--
--
52
68
80
86
89
90
90
91
93
  Ages 15-19
--
--
63
77
86
90
92
92
93
93
95
                         
Hispanicc,d
  Ages 15-17
--
--
--
--
51
61
68
69
69
69
77
  Ages 18-19
--
--
--
--
36
46
54
56
57
58
65
  Ages 15-19
--
--
--
--
42
51
59
61
62
63
70
                         
Notes: aBirths by race of mother. Tabulations prior to 1980 were by race of child, which assigns the child to the race of the nonwhite parent, if any, or to the race of the father, if both are nonwhite.  
bIncludes persons of Hispanic origin.  
cPersons of Hispanic origin may be of any race. 
dData for Hispanics have been available only since 1980, with 22 states reporting in 1980, representing 90% of the Hispanic population. Hispanic birth data was reported by 23 states and DC in 1985; 48 states and DC in 1990; 49 states and DC in 1991 and 1992; and all states in 1993 and 1994.  
eIncreases between 1993 and 1994 were due primarily to improvements in the identification of non-marital births in Texas and Michigan.  

Sources: Ventura S.J. "Births to Unmarried Mothers: United States, 1980-1992." National Center for Health Statistics. Vital and Health Statistics, Series 21, No. 53. 1993; Ventura S.J., Martin, J.A. Mathews, T.J. Clarke, S.C. "Advance Report of Final Natality Statistics, 1994." Monthly Vital Statistics Report, Vol. 44, No. 11, Supplement. Hyattsville, Maryland: National Center for Health Statistics. 1996. Also previous issues of this annual report.

 

58 McLanahan, S., and Sandefur, G. 1994. Growing up with a single parent: What hurts, what helps. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press; Haveman, R. and Wolfe, B. 1994. Succeeding generations: On the effects of investments in children. New York, NY: Russell Sage Foundation.

59 Knox, V. and Bane, M.J. 1994. "Child support and schooling": In I. Garfinkel, S. McLanahan, and P.Robins (Eds). Child Support and Child-Well-Being. Washington, DC: The Urban Institute.

60 Ventura, S.J., Martin, J.A., Mathews, T.J. and S.C. Clarke. "Advance Report of Final Natality Statistics, 1994."
Monthly Vital Statistics Report, Vol. 44, No. 11, Supplement. Hyattsville, Maryland: National Center for Health
Statistics. 1996.

61 Estimates for white and black teens include those of Hispanic origin. Teens of Hispanic origin may be of any race.
 
 

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