Every child deserves a chance to be loved and to follow their dreams. Children can enter into this world into a wide variety of family environments. With the increases of cohabitation in relation to marriage, however, the amount of children who fill up the illegitimate birth statistics is beginning to rise.
In the United States, over 40% of the total births that occur annually are considered illegitimate births.
Illegitimate Children Facts
One of the biggest risk factors that contribute to the rise of illegitimate births is income. When people are struggling financially, then there is a direct connection to the illegitimacy rate for their demographic. Other influences include the exposure to crime and low levels of education. Because these trends tend to affect certain racial demographics more than others, there is a definite disparity in these figures.
Where Are Illegitimate Births Happening?
- Nearly 3 out of every 4 children that are born to an African American mother are born out of wedlock.
- The percentage of children born out of wedlock to Native populations: 66.2%.
- The lowest rate of illegitimate births comes from Asian and Pacific Islanders, at just 17.2% of all births.
- In the last year, there were over 1.6 million live births to unmarried women.
- The birth rate for unmarried women aged 15-44: 45.3 births per 1,000 women.
- The place in the US that sees the most illegitimate children born is the District of Columbia.
- The state with the lowest illegitimate birth rate: Utah at just 14.7% of all births.
There are a number of factors that are contributing to the rise of illegitimate births. Money is obviously one major consideration. It’s actually cheaper in some ways to cohabit than it is to get married, even if a couple skips the large ceremony for a basic meeting with the local Justice of the Peace. It’s also a reflection of changing times, where people are more willing to shed the commitment of marriage in order to have a level of personal independence while still committing to a relationship. This isn’t a recent trend. Non-marital fertility rates have been climbing steadily since 1940.
What Increases The Risks Of An Illegitimate Birth?
- 57% of women who gave birth to a child when they were not married did not have a high school diploma.
- Living below the state’s median income level increases the chances of having an out of wedlock birth by 67%.
- As income levels increase, the rates of illegitimacy drop. For households that earned at least $200k, the illegitimate birth rate was just 9%.
- Up to 40% of children today will live in a cohabiting household by the age of 12.
- The illegitimate birth rate for women making less than $10k per year: 68.9%.
- Only 8.8% of the total illegitimate births were to women who had a 4 year college degree in any subject area.
The statistics here are clear. When there is more money involved, then there are fewer illegitimate births. When there is more education involved, there are fewer illegitimate births. This means that the easiest and fastest way to reduce these rates would be to work on improving the standard of life for women who are living in poverty right now. Even the simple act of getting a GED lowers the risk of a woman becoming pregnant while out of wedlock.
Is Age Also A Risk Factor For Illegitimate Children?
- For the number of new mothers that were aged 15-19, over 86% of them were not married.
- Only 31.9% of women aged 25-29 who gave birth to a child over the past year were not married.
- The only time the percentage of unmarried women climbs is when a woman gives birth in her 40′s.
- Children who are born to women who are unmarried are more likely to grow up in a single-parent home than children born to married couples.
- Between 2006-2010, 58% of births to unmarried couples were to cohabiting parents, an increase of 18% from just 2002.
- Under the age of 15, there is a 99% chance that a birth will be to an unmarried mother.
- The fastest growth rates for age demographics with illegitimate children are the 30-35 year old group.
Trends are shifting for unmarried mothers. Although it makes sense that most teen moms aren’t going to be married, they aren’t the fastest growing demographic. Women who are likely in the middle of their career are the fastest growing demographic in this area and the data shows that cohabitation is likely responsible for it. With up to 85% of cohabiting couples breaking up within a 5 year period, the issue isn’t the quality of parenting. It’s whether or not a child who grows up in this environment will have the same advantages as a child growing up in a two-parent married household. The data suggests that the illegitimate child is going to face a tougher journey through childhood.
Have Illegitimate Births Reached Crisis Levels?
- The median age for a woman to become a mother: 25.7 years.
- Living the Middle Class lifestyle means needing more education than ever before, which is causing couples to put off getting married more often.
- Cohabiting couples are less likely to have job prospects or economic stability.
- Only 38% of American women will be married by the time they reach the median age of motherhood.
- For women who have a high school diploma and some college, 58% of the births to this group are considered illegitimate children.
- If a couple is living together when they have a child, but not married, then there is a 39% chance of the family unit disintegrating. It’s just 13% for a married couple.
Maybe some families are staying together for their children when they are married. The same could also be said for cohabiting couples. Now all of this data doesn’t prove that an illegitimate child isn’t going to be successful. It just means that the data shows there are higher failure risks involved than there are for children who are born to couples that are married. If we can stabilize our society and get good jobs available, then these rates just might drop and that might mean kids will be able to make even more incredible advancements as they turn into adults. One thing is for certain: children are our future. We need them more than they really need us.