Out of wedlock births have increased by more than 18 percent since 1980, and the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) report approximately 1.7 million children were born outside of wedlock during 2009.
According to Face the Facts USA, an initiative from George Washington University, the number of children born outside of marriage equates to approximately four of every 10 children born in the United States during 2009.
Among Hispanics and African-Americans, out of wedlock births far surpass those of non-Hispanic whites. More than 70 percent of African-American children born in 2009 were born out of wedlock, compared to more than 50 percent of Hispanics. Non-Hispanic whites had the lowest percentage of birth out of wedlock at approximately 30 percent.
Out of wedlock births by region
When broken down by region, Washington D.C. had the highest percentage of out of wedlock births at 55.8 percent, followed closely by Mississippi at 55.3 percent and Louisiana at 53.6 percent. On the opposite end of the scale, the lowest percentage of births out of wedlock was in Utah at 19.4 percent.
Mothers giving birth outside of marriage tend to be younger and less likely to hold a high school diploma. Face the Facts also indicates unwed mothers have a higher risk of living in poverty and are more likely to earn less income over the course of their working years.
Children born out of wedlock also experience negative effects and often battle behavioral issues and struggle in school. A report from the Child Trends Databank reveals children born out of wedlock are also more likely to engage in sex at a younger age, are more likely to have troubled marriages and are more likely to also heave children out of wedlock.
Despite the number of children being born outside of wedlock, the Databank report indicates many of those children—approximately 58 percent between 2006 and 2010— had both parents still present at home. Children born under these circumstances were also more likely to eventually see their parents marry.