The new norm for middle-class young people is to have a baby first, then marriage. According to a report by the National Marriage Project, the children are paying the price.
48% of first births are now outside of marriage. Some consider today’s unmarried twentysomething moms the new teen mothers.
The report says reviving cultural support for earlier marriage may be a part of the solution, but not everyone agrees with that approach.
The National Marriage Project has been sounding the alarm about the growing disconnect between marriage and parenthood for a while. This new report is the first to make clear that a “tipping point” has been reached for middle class Americans, especially those who have at least a high school education but no college degree.
According to the research, among women with high school diplomas, 58% of first births are now outside the marriage. For high school dropouts it’s 83%. But, for college educated women it’s 12%.
Overall, the median age for marriage is now 27 for women, 29 for men. But the median age at which a woman has her first baby is 26, says the report.
Young people are delaying marriage to finish their educations, start their work lives and achieve economy security.
The benefits of delayed marriage include high incomes and lower divorce rates. But there are costs for young people, too. The report says those who are married have more life satisfaction.
39% of unmarried parents who start out living together break up before their child is 5 years old. That’s compared to 13% of married parents who do the same.