According to health officials nearly a quarter of all babies born are born to unmarried couples who are living together. The rise is significant from a decade ago. The increase came even as the picture for U.S. births and parenthood remained largely unchanged from the 2002 data, the report said.
The government previously said more than 40 percent of births are to unwed mothers. But a report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics, offers new detail showing most unwed births occur in cohabiting couples. The CDC study involved face-to-face interviews with more than 22,000 men and women during 2006 through 2010.
The study found that about 23 percent of the reported births were to unmarried heterosexual couples who were living together when the child was born. That was up from 14 percent when a similar study was done in 2002.
Gladys Martinez, the study's lead author, said a reason for the greater number of children born to unmarried couples was the rising number of men and women living together. “More people are cohabiting. It's more likely that they are going to have children when in cohabiting unions,” she told Reuters. The increase is important because children born out of wedlock generally suffer more instability and grow up with fewer resources.