Welfare Indicators and Risk Factors: Fourteenth Report to Congress. Nonmarital Birth Risk Factor 1. Nonmarital Births

09/22/2015

Figure BIRTH 1.  Percentage of Births that are Nonmarital by Age: 1940-2012

Figure BIRTH 1.  Percentage of Births that are Nonmarital by Age: 1940-2012

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 status is not reported.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, “Nonmarital Childbearing in the United States, 1940-1999,” National Vital Statistics Reports, Vol. 48 (16), 2000; “Births: Final Data for 2012,” National Vital Statistics Reports, Vol. 62 (9), December 30, 2013, http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/nvsr.htm


  • Figure BIRTH 1 shows the percentage of births that were nonmarital by age group from 1940 to 2012 and Table BIRTH 1 shows corresponding estimates for selected years.  Changes in nonmarital births reflect changes in 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 to women of all ages has increased over the past 70 years.  In 1940, 3.8 percent of births were to unmarried women.  By 2012, the percentage had increased to 40.7 percent.   
  • Teen births, as shown in Figure BIRTH 1 and Table BIRTH 1, show nonmarital teen births as a percentage of all teen births.  In 1940, 14.0 percent of births to teens were nonmarital.  While the percentage of all teen births that are nonmarital has increased since the mid-1960s, growth in the percentage slowed in the mid- to late-1990s before rising to 88.8 percent in 2012.
  • Over the past 15 years, the percentage of nonmarital births among all births to women 20 to 24 years of age increased by 40.7 percent from 45.6 percent in 1996 to 64.8 percent in 2012  This compares to an increase of 16.4 percent in the percentage of nonmarital births among teen births over the same period. 
  • Since 1994, the percentage of births that are nonmarital remains steady 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 nonmarital birth data by age and race).

Table BIRTH 1.  Percentage of Births that are Nonmarital by Age: Selected Years

Year

Under 15

15-17 Years

18-19 Years

All Teens

20-24 Years

All Women

1940

64.5

NA

NA

14.0

3.7

3.8

1945

70.0

NA

NA

18.2

4.7

4.3

1950

63.7

22.6

9.4

13.9

3.8

4.0

1955

66.3

23.2

10.3

14.9

4.4

4.5

1960

67.9

24.0

10.7

15.4

4.8

5.3

1965

78.5

32.8

15.3

21.6

6.8

7.7

1970

80.8

43.0

22.4

30.5

8.9

10.7

1975

87.0

51.4

29.8

39.3

12.3

14.3

1980

88.7

61.5

39.8

48.3

19.4

18.4

1981

89.2

63.3

41.4

49.9

20.4

18.9

1982

89.2

65.0

43.0

51.4

21.4

19.4

1983

90.4

67.5

45.7

54.1

22.9

20.3

1984

91.1

69.2

48.1

56.3

24.5

21.0

1985

91.8

70.9

50.7

58.7

26.3

22.0

1986

92.5

73.3

53.6

61.5

28.7

23.4

1987

92.9

76.2

55.8

64.0

30.8

24.5

1988

93.6

77.1

58.5

65.9

32.9

25.7

1989

92.4

77.7

60.4

67.2

35.1

27.1

1990

91.6

77.7

61.3

67.6

36.9

28.0

1991

91.3

78.7

63.2

69.3

39.4

29.5

1992

91.3

79.2

64.6

70.5

40.7

30.1

1993

91.3

79.9

66.1

71.8

42.2

31.0

1994

94.5

84.1

70.0

75.9

44.9

32.6

1995

93.5

83.7

69.8

75.6

44.7

32.2

1996

93.8

84.4

70.8

76.3

45.6

32.4

1997

95.7

86.7

72.5

78.2

46.6

32.4

1998

96.6

87.5

73.6

78.9

47.7

32.8

1999

96.5

87.7

74.0

79.0

48.5

33.0

2000

96.5

87.7

74.3

79.1

49.5

33.2

2001

96.3

87.8

74.6

79.2

50.4

33.5

2002

97.0

88.5

75.8

80.2

51.6

34.0

2003

97.1

89.7

77.3

81.6

53.2

34.6

2004

97.4

90.3

78.7

82.6

54.8

35.8

2005

98.0

90.9

79.7

83.5

56.2

36.9

2006

98.3

91.9

80.6

84.4

57.9

38.5

2007

98.8

93.3

82.2

85.7

59.6

39.7

2008

99.1

93.7

83.5

86.8

60.9

40.6

2009

99.0

94.2

84.2

87.4

62.1

41.0

2010

99.3

95.0

85.1

88.2

63.1

40.8

2011

99.1

95.3

85.7

88.6

64.0

40.7

2012

99.0

95.4

86.0

88.8

64.8

40.7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 status is not reported.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, “Nonmarital Childbearing in the United States, 1940-1999,” National Vital Statistics Reports, Vol. 48 (16), 2000; “Births: Final Data for 2012,” National Vital Statistics Reports, Vol. 62 (9), December 30, 2013, http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/nvsr.htm

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