Nearly three in five births to unmarried women across the United States were to women living with their partner — marking the first time a majority of these births were to women in cohabiting relationships, according to a new analysis of federal data released Wednesday.
The increase was sharp; the percentage of nonmarital births within cohabiting relationships rose to 58 percent from 41 percent in just a few years, says the report, based on various data sources from the National Center for Health Statistics, collected between 2002 and 2013, the most recent available.
“What’s happened is the percent of nonmarital births within cohabiting unions has been increasing, but now it’s increased to the point where the majority of nonmarital births are to women that are cohabiting,” said Sally Curtin, the report’s co-author.
While the births in cohabiting relationships increased, the number, rate, and percentage of births to unmarried women overall declined during the same period.
In 2013, the total of 1,605,643 births to unmarried women was the lowest since 2005. The birthrate for unmarried women has steadily declined.
National attention on a proposed Arizona law allowing business owners to deny service for religious reasons to gay people signals how attitudes on social issues have shifted dramatically in recent years.
Experts said such changes will accelerate on issues such as same-sex marriage, interracial marriage, legalization of marijuana, and childbearing among the unwed. Younger people are more liberal and less conventional, they said.
“We’re entering a period of massive social change,” said sociologist Daniel Lichter, of Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. “This traditional pattern is reinforced by very large racial changes in America’s composition. The Baby Boomer generation — which is predominantly white and affluent and in some ways, conservative — in the next 20 [to] 30 years will be replaced by a younger population, and that population is going to be disproportionately minority.”
The invitations are in the mail. Jennifer Beltz and T.J. Gurski of Commerce Township, Mich., are defying the odds — they’re taking the plunge a second time.
“When I got divorced, I said, ‘I’m never getting married again,” says Beltz, 41, who works in marketing.
That sentiment seems to be quite common among those jaded by a failed first union: A new analysis of federal data provided exclusively to USA TODAY shows the USA’s remarriage rate has dropped 40 percent over the past 20 years.
Unmarried couples who live together are staying together longer than in the past — and more of them are having children, according to new federal data that details just how cohabitation is transforming families across the U.S.
For almost half of women ages 15-44, their “first union” was cohabitation rather than marriage, says the report from the National Center for Health Statistics. For less than one-quarter, the first union was marriage. The report was based on in-person interviews conducted between 2006 and 2010 with 12,279 women ages 15-44.
“Instead of marriage, people are moving into cohabitation as a first union,” said demographer Casey Copen, the report’s lead author. “It’s kind of a ubiquitous phenomenon now.”
Kenyan church leaders are lining up in opposition to proposed new marriage bills, which they say will weaken marriage by allowing cohabiting couples to register as married.
One bill would bring Christian, Hindu, Muslim, civil, and customary marriages under one law, and another would give spouses and children more rights to property. The twin bills were approved by the cabinet on Nov. 9 and are scheduled to be debated by Parliament before Christmas.
“It is the worst law we have had as churches in Kenya. It compromises the standards of Christian marriage and divorce. Instead of three grounds for divorce, we now have nine,” said the Rev. Wellington Mutiso, the general secretary of the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya.