Nearly Half of U.S. Births Happen Outside Marriage

An increasing number of births happen outside of marriage, signaling cultural and economic shifts, according to a new UN report. 40% of all births in the U.S. now occur outside of marriage, up from 10% in 1970, according to the annual report. That number is even higher in the European Union.

In the U.S. and EU these births are predominantly to unmarried couples living together rather than to single mothers, suggesting changing social and religious norms about marriage, childbearing and women in the workforce.

American women have their first child at an average age of 27 today, up from 22 in 1970. As marriage rates have fallen the number of adults in relationships living together without marrying has steadily risen. This change is most significant among those under age 35, however the rise in cohabitation is occurring across all age demographics.


“Watching Family – New Orleans, Louisiana”by Jeff Turner is licensed under CC BY 2.0