The rate of single motherhood, which has been steadily increasing since the 1940s, has skyrocketed in recent years, according to a report by the U.S. Census Bureau released on May 1st.
While the birth rate for single women has greatly increased across all demographics -- according to the report, which is based on data from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey, the birth rate for single mothers in 2007 was 80 percent higher than it was in 1980, and 20 percent of that increase happened between 2002 and 2007 -- the numbers are particularly high for recent mothers (mothers who gave birth in the previous 12 months) between age 20 and 24.
In 2011, 62 percent of women between ages 20 and 24 who had recently given birth were unmarried.
Among women ages 35 to 39, the percentage was considerably lower -- 17 percent of women who recently gave birth were unmarried -- but overall, 36 percent of the 4.1 million women who reported they had given birth in the past year were unmarried. That's up from 31 percent in 2005.
The birthrate among single mothers also varied along educational, socioeconomic and racial barriers. Sixty-eight percent of black women who had given birth in the past year were unmarried, compared to 11 percent of Asian women, 43 percent of hispanics and 26 percent of non-Hispanic whites. Fifty-seven percent of recent mothers without a high school diploma were unmarried compared to nine percent of recent mothers with a bachelors degree or higher. Sixty-nine percent of recent mothers who came from households with incomes with $10,000, in contrast to nine percent of recent mothers with households earning $200,000 or more.
"The increased share of unmarried recent mothers is one measure of the nation’s changing family structure,” said Rose Kreider, one of the report’s authors, in a press release.
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