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Report: 48 percent of first children born out of wedlock

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
March 21st, 2013
Catholic Online (

A report from academics and social scientists are calling it "The Great Crossover." Teen pregnancy is down, but woman in their twenties are increasingly having children out of wedlock. Statistics prove that 48 percent of all first children born in the U.S. are in a home with an absent father. While modern demographics and social change have contributed to these statistics, children with an absent or semi-permanent man in the house still face a tougher start than children who do.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Today, young people in the U.S. are waiting longer to marry. The average age of woman who marries for the first time is 27, for men, 29. More young people today are getting their college educations and exploring all the options that life has to offer before settling down.

"Culturally, young adults have increasingly come to see marriage as a 'capstone' rather than a 'cornerstone' - that is, something they do after they have all their ducks in a row, rather than a foundation for launching into adulthood and parenthood," the report states.

Furthermore, by the age of 30 two-thirds of American women have had a child, typically out of wedlock.

Kay Hymowitz, an author of the report and a William E. Simon Fellow at the Manhattan Institute says this proves that the typical attitude of marriage has changed. This includes young adults who say marriage and children "are two separate things," Hymowitz says.

The report cites two major reasons. Middle class American men having difficulty finding stable employment that allows them to support a family and "a less understood" reason about disconnect between marriage and childbearing.

The report states that the "good news" of delayed marriage is that women can more easily have successful careers, and divorce rates are lower for later marriages.

However - as recent figures have found, delayed marriage does not necessarily mean delayed motherhood. The "private" decision to become a parent ahead of a marriage commitment - when done by such a large a portion of the population - has consequences for society at large, experts warn.

"Researchers now view family instability as one of the greatest risks to children's well being," the report states. "Yet unmarried adults, including single 20-somethings who make up about half of unmarried parents, are by definition unsettled.

"Most researchers agree that on average, whether because of instability or absent fathers or both, children of unmarried mothers have poorer outcomes than children growing up with their married parents."

Patrick Fagan, senior fellow and director of the Marriage and Religion Research Institute at the Family Research Council says that the prevailing social ethos in today's culture that "anything goes" results in disconnect between this kind of data and its moral implications.

"Government is incompetent in social policy," Fagan said. "That is very clear.

"The competence lies within the family, within the church and within the school," Fagan said. "They are the three people-forming institutions."

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