Ken Blackwell alerted me to the latest updates on out-of-wedlock births. The upshot is that the figure approaches 40 percent. And that is a serious problem.
Emile Yoffe of Slate points out that, from 1960 to today, the percent of births to unwed mothers has risen from 5 to 40.
Of course, the mere numbers do not tell the whole story. Some responsible older women choose to have children by themselves. I know several Colorado couples who are “common law” married but who may not show up in the marriage statistics. Some couples, while not technically married, are fully committed to their relationship. (While Yoffe notes that many unmarried couples with children split up, the fact remains that many married couples do the same thing, though at a somewhat lower rate.)
Gay couples typically are legally forbidden from getting married, though they may raise a child in a deeply committed romantic relationship. While many women used to suffer in horrible “shotgun” marriages with abusive spouses, today they are more likely to go it alone — and they’re better off for it. More women (as CNN points out) have a child before getting married, rather than rush a marriage due to pregnancy.
Nevertheless, the dramatic rise in out-of-wedlock births points to deep cultural problems, even if not all out-of-wedlock births are a cause for alarm.
Out-of-wedlock births are largely a phenomenon of lower-class America, where decades of welfare have encouraged promiscuity and dependence on federal handouts. Yoffe points out, “Only 4 percent of college graduates have children out of wedlock.”
The National Vital Statistics Report for Births: Final Data for 2006 (January 7, 2009) offers the updates. Here’s the relevant passage:
The birth rate for unmarried women increased 7 percent between 2005 and 2006, reaching 50.6 births per 1,000 unmarried women aged 15–44 years. The rate has jumped 16 percent since 2002, the most recent low. The number of nonmarital births in 2006, 1,641,946, was almost 8 percent higher than in 2005 and 20 percent more than in 2002. The proportion of all births to unmarried women reached 38.5 percent of all U.S. births in 2006, up from 36.9 percent in 2005. All of these measures were at record levels for the United States in 2006.
Turn to Table 18 of the report (page 54) for some truly frightening numbers. The “percent of births to unmarried women” for “all ages” breaks down as follows:
All Races: 38.5
The welfare state and the social pathologies it engenders are devastating much of black America. And any political leader who refuses to look squarely at the problem is a traitor to the black community.