Out-of-wedlock births in the United States have climbed to an all-time high, accounting for nearly four in 10 babies born last year, government health officials said Tuesday.
While out-of-wedlock births have long been associated with teen mothers, the teen birth rate actually dropped last year to the lowest level on record. Instead, births among unwed mothers rose most dramatically among women in their 20s.
The overall rise reflects the burgeoning number of people who are putting off marriage or living together without getting married.
The increase in births to unwed mothers was seen in all racial groups, but rose most sharply among Hispanics. It was up among all age groups except youngsters ages 10 to 17.
"A lot of people think of teenagers and unmarried mothers synonymously, but they are not driving this," said Stephanie Ventura of the National Center for Health Statistics, a co-author of the report.
As lawmakers in Indiana ponder whether to amend Indiana's constitution to ban same-sex marriages, they may want to consider what exactly such an amendment will accomplish. Clearly, more and more straight couples are foregoing marriage while starting families. The decreasing value straight couples place on the institution of marriage can in no way be attributed to gay marriages or civil unions, which remain illegal in all but three states.