This article originally appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle on July 2, 2014.
The old rhyme about love, then marriage, then a baby carriage doesn’t seem to be ringing true for Millennials. New research from Johns Hopkins University reveals that just over a third of moms who gave birth in their teens or 20s were married at the time. And mothers with the lowest levels of education had the highest rates of unwed pregnancies.
Researchers examined data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth and zeroed in on 9,000 Americans who reached ages 26 to 31 in 2011. A little more than half the women in this group already had children, and the majority of those were not married when they gave birth to one or more of their kids. The numbers were roughly the same for men.
The scientists presented these findings recently at a meeting of the Population Association of America, a nonprofit research organization. They found marriage rates of young mothers and fathers varied by race in addition to education level.
“If marriage retains its place anywhere, it would be among the college graduates, because most of them do not begin to have children until after they are married,” Andrew J. Cherlin, a Johns Hopkins sociologist and one of the study’s authors, said in a statement. “The difference between them and the non-college educated with regard to the percentage of births within marriage is so striking as to suggest a very different experience of early adulthood.”
Here are the numbers:
The percentage of women who were 26 to 31 years old in 2011 and had at least one child, according to the new Johns Hopkins research.
The percentage of these mothers who had at least one baby out of wedlock. Forty-seven percent of them had all their babies when they weren’t married.
The percentage of mothers without a high school diploma who had at least one baby when they weren’t married. The rate was 71 percent for mothers with only a high school diploma, 67 percent for mothers with 1 to 3 years of college, and 32 percent for mothers with 4 or more years of college.
The percentage of white mothers who had all of their children while married. Twenty-eight percent of Latino and 10 percent of black mothers did. The numbers were similar for fathers.