Out of Wedlock - Over Half of First Babies

The headline seems to tell the whole story. Out-of-wedlock first births have risen so sharply that they are now more frequent than those conceived in wedlock. However, another fact of at least equal importance is buried in the body of the article below, namely that "The proportion of first births to women 15-19 years old that were premaritally born or premaritally conceived increased from 28 percent in the early 1930s to 89 percent in the early 1990s." It is one thing if a woman has a baby out of wedlock but it is another thing entirely if the new unmarried mother is a girl 15-19 years of age, still in her teens. -- Medical Editor, MedicineNet.com


The percentage of first births conceived out of wedlock have almost tripled since the 1930, according to the U.S. Census.

The proportion of first births conceived out of wedlock to women ages 15 to 29 has soared over the past six decades, from 18 percent between 1930-1934 to 53 percent between 1990-1994.

"Growth in the proportion of first births born premaritally grew five-fold," said Census Bureau analyst Amara Bachu, "from 8 percent during the early 1930s to 41 percent in the early 1990s."

The Census Bureau released a report today that traces the marital status of women at the time of their first birth from 1930 to 1994. It looks at three categories of first births: premaritally conceived and born out of wedlock; premaritally conceived but born within seven months after the mother's first marriage; and postmaritally conceived and born after the mother's first marriage.

Other findings in the Census Bureau report include the following:

  • The proportion of White women under age 30 who had a premaritally born or premaritally conceived first birth tripled, from 15 percent in the early 1930s to 45 percent in the early 1990s.
  • The comparable figure for African American women doubled, from 43 percent to 86 percent.


  • The proportion of first births to women 15-19 years old that were premaritally born or premaritally conceived increased from 28 percent in the early 1930s to 89 percent in the early 1990s.


  • In 1990-1994, about 85 percent of all first births to White women ages 15 to 19 were either premaritally born or premaritally conceived, compared with 25 percent for the 1930-1934 period.


  • The comparable figures for African American teenage women were 98 percent and 47 percent, respectively.


Medical Editor, MedicineNet.com -- This article is based upon a press release issued by the Census Bureau. The full report from the Census Bureau is called "Trends in Premarital Childbearing: 1930 to 1994" and is available on the Census Bureau's site (at www.census.gov).

For more information, please visit the Birth Control Center.


Last Editorial Review: 1/9/2003




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