Nearly three in five births to
unmarried women across the U. S. were to women living with their
partner—marking the first time a majority of these births were to women in
cohabiting relationships, according to a new analysis of federal data released
The increase was sharp; the
percentage of nonmarital births within cohabiting relationships rose to 58
percent from 41 percent in just a few years, says the report, based on various
data sources from the National Center for Health Statistics, collected between
2002 and 2013, the most recent available.
“What’s happened is the percent
of nonmarital births within cohabiting unions has been increasing, but now it’s
increased to the point where the majority of nonmarital births are to women
that are cohabiting,” said Sally Curtin, the report’s co-author.
While the births in cohabiting
relationships increased, the number, rate and percentage of births to unmarried
women overall declined during the same period.
In 2013, the total of 1,605,643
births to unmarried women was the lowest since 2005. The birthrate for
unmarried women has steadily declined. The peak was 2007–08, with 51.8 births
per 1,000 women, compared with 44.8 per 1,000 last year. That 14 percent
decline was the steepest ever, the report says. And the percentage of births to
unmarried women declined slightly, to 40.6 percent in 2013 from 40.7 percent
the previous year.
The new report reflects what
demographer Sam Sturgeon, of Taylorsville, Utah, has seen in his data analysis
as president of Demographic Intelligence, a for-profit company that provides
fertility forecasts for consumer products.
Sturgeon predicts that the rate
of nonmarital childbearing has stabilized to the point it will remain flat
through 2016, marking an about-face from the increases seen for decades. His
latest projections, provided exclusively to USA
Today, suggest that the year-over-year increases in the percentage of
children born to unmarried parents has slowed. He estimates that by 2016 births
overall will increase for all groups of women, except teens.
“The post-recession birth
decline is over,” he said. “We are predicting that births will trend up among
every group except teenagers in the next few years.”
The birth data for unmarried
women is the latest in a series of new data reflecting a leveling of once
rapidly increasing changes in how families are created, Sturgeon said.
“A lot of family-related statistics have started to level
out,” he said. “The marriage rate was declining for years pretty consistently,
and now it seems to have leveled out. The divorce rate was going up and seems to
have leveled out. The number of children growing up with two married parents
declined for many years but also seems to have flattened out. We’ve seen kind
of a stabilization of family in America.”