From The Seattle Times:
More than 1.7 million babies were born to unmarried women in 2007, a 26 percent rise from 2002 and more than double the number in 1980, according to the report from the National Center for Health Statistics. The increase reflected a 21 percent jump in the rates of unmarried women giving birth, which rose from 43.7 per 1,000 women in 2002 to 52.9 per 1,000 women.
That means that unmarried women accounted for 39.7 percent of all U.S. births in 2007 — nearly four of every 10 newborns — up from 34 percent in 2002 and more than double the percentage in 1980.
Although the report did not examine reasons for the increase, Ventura and other experts said the trend has been driven by a combination of factors, including the lessening of the social stigma associated with unmarried motherhood, an increase in couples delaying or forgoing marriage and growing numbers of financially independent women and older and single women who decide to have children after delaying childbearing.
“Certainly, the social disapproval factor has diminished,” Ventura said.
Some experts said unmarried women are less likely to be shunned if they have children or to be forced to give their children up for adoption.
“Women can have children on their own, and it’s not going to destroy your employment and it’s not going to mean that you’ll be made a pariah by the community,” said Rosanna Hertz, a professor of sociology at Wellesley College.
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