April 27, 2012

Births to cohabiting couples dramatically increase


The number of babies born to unmarried couples who are living together in America has increased dramatically during the past decade, according to a new report by the National Center for Health Statistics.

"We were a little surprised in such a short time period to see these increases," Gladys Martinez, a demographer and the lead author of the report, said.

About 23 percent of the reported births in the study -- based on face-to-face interviews of 22,000 men and women from 2006 through 2010 -- were to unmarried heterosexual couples who were cohabiting when the child was born. In 2002, the figure from a similar study was 14 percent.

'It just could be that it's OK now to have a kid outside of marriage.' -- Sociologist Kelly RaleyResearchers in the study did not attempt to explain the increase, but a sociologist from Bowling Green State University in Ohio told USA Today that it could be attributed to the economy.

"Marriage is an achievement that you enter into when you're ready. But in the meantime, life happens. You form relationships. You have sex. You get pregnant. In a perfect world, they would prefer to be married, but where the economy is now, they're not going to be able to get married, and they don't want to wait to have kids," Karen Benjamin Guzzo said.

Another sociologist, Kelly Raley at the University of Texas-Austin, told USA Today, "It just could be that it's OK now to have a kid outside of marriage."

Brad Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, said children with cohabiting parents are three times more likely to experience their parents' breakup by the age of 5 than children whose parents are married.

"They have less stability, security, legal and cultural support," Wilcox told TIME, adding, "... [Cohabiting] gives couples more flexibility but less stability to the kids born into these relationships."

Contact: Erin Roach
Source: Baptist Press