Washington, D.C. – Some commentators suggest that the increase in the percentage of all births accounted for by unmarried women is due to the decrease in married birth rates. Dr. Janice Shaw Crouse, Director and Senior Fellow of Concerned Women for America’s (CWA) Beverly LaHaye Institute (BLI), reports, “The data does not support this. Two facts are important in understanding the increase in the percentage of unwed births: the birth rate of married women has been very stable over the last 10 years, but the number of married women of childbearing age is declining. By 2002 the number of unmarried women ages 15 to 44 eclipsed the number of married women. By 2008 it was 13 percent larger. It is an increase in the number of unmarried women at the same time as a decrease in the number of married women that accounts for the increase in the percentage of births to unmarried women.”
Dr. Crouse reports on the trends in BLI’s just-released Data Digest, titled, “What We Can Learn from Marital Birth Rate Trends.” The Data Digest can be downloaded from CWA’s website.
Dr. Crouse explains, “If you fill a bathtub and the hot water remains constant while you turn up the cold water, the water will turn colder. So it is with the birth pools in the U.S. As the number of unmarried women increase, their number becomes a bigger percentage of the total births in the nation.”
She continues, “Unwed births as a percentage of all births increased from 39.7 percent in 2007 to 40.6 percent in 2008. The married birth rate rose by close to seven percent from 1996 to 2008, but because of the decrease of three million in the number of married women ages 15 to 44, both the number and percentage of married births decreased while the number and percentage of births to unmarried women increased.”
Another problem is the “too-little information myth.” Some experts claim that teen pregnancy results from a “lack of information and tools.” Crouse reports that the dramatic decline since 1990 in the married teen birth rate (married 15- to 17-year-olds) indicates that in our “sex-ed saturated society” teens are not suffering from an information shortage.