40 Percent Of Kids Now Born To Single Moms—Up 700 Percent Since 1960

40 percent of american children are born to single mothers, a 700 percent rise from 1960

40 Percent of All US Childbirths Occur to Single Mothers, 700 Percent Higher than in 1960

A recent report from the Social Capital Project reveals that the American family is disintegrating, fast.  Fully 40 percent of mothers are currently unmarried.

This is bad news, because good families depend on good marriages. Marriage is the moral glue that binds them.  It’s the stabilizing agent.  There’s a reason that children from married couples do better in school, and are less likely to end up in jail as compared to children of unmarried mothers, known as “fragile families.”

Lavar Young, civil rights activist, thinks marriage is a powerful tool for fighting against racial inequality.  He outlines some of the problems children born out of wedlock face:

Fragile families are shown to have harsher parenting practices and fewer literacy activities, and children of such families produce lower cognitive test scores and a have a higher incidence of aggressive behavior.

Children are not the only ones who suffer, according to Mr. Young:

…compared with “traditional families,” parents of fragile families are more likely to have become parents in their teens, more likely to have had children with other partners, more likely to be poor, suffer from depression, struggle with substance abuse, and to have been incarcerated.

When it comes to raising successful children, the importance of married parents cannot be overstated.  On balance, married parents set better examples, and foster more stable relationships and environments that better prepare children for adult life.  This is eloquently put by the authors at the Social Capital Project:

Of all the social relationships that shape people throughout our lives, none is so formative and consequential as the one children have with their parents. For most of us, it is primarily the nuclear family that socializes us into the adult world, develops in us secure attachment and emotional maturation, and transfers to us the values and skills that shape the rest of our lives. No source of social capital matters more—whether for individuals or for society as a whole.

Sadly, the nuclear family has been in decline for some time—and we’re already experiencing the dire consequences as a society.

The Social Capital Project, spearheaded by Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), decided to investigate why single motherhood has become more common in the last two generations. Since 1960, America’s single motherhood rate has risen from 5 percent to 40 percent in absolute terms—a 700 percent increase in under 60 years.

graph showing the share of American childbirths to unmarried women, 1940 to 2015

This is partly due to the increasing acceptance in out-of-wedlock births.  But, as the authors point out, this rise has a few more concrete explanations, such as: increased unwed promiscuity, fewer “shotgun marriages” to pregnant single women, and increasing delayed marriage/rising divorce.

The authors conclude that the common explanation of economic problems is not the primary driver of this phenomenon:

Social phenomena are complicated and have multiple causes, but our read of the evidence—and we are by no means alone—is that negative economic trends explain little of the overall rise in unwed childbearing. Instead, we think it is more likely that, as with other worsening aspects of our associational life, rising family instability primarily reflects societal affluence, which reduced marriage and marital childbearing, increased divorce and nonmarital sexual activity and pregnancy, and reduced shotgun marriage.

This report adds to the wealth of data showing that traditional American families have been on the decline.

Senator Lee himself is a social conservative and a long-time advocate for the traditional family. His response to this report is optimistic, but acknowledges that more data is needed to understand the problem:

The structure of American families has changed over the past generation and it is important that policy makers study the factors that are contributing to this trend. I hope this paper contributes to that debate.

In any event, these data are disturbing: the decline of marriage, and the rise of single motherhood imperils American society because of its destabilizing effect.  It’s time we took this problem seriously.

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  1. Pretty sad commentary for us. What a disservice we are creating for our kids and grandkids and people wonder why our society is tethering on the brink of extinction. The family unit is the bedrock of any society and we are seeing first hand the destructiveness of the single parent households; more welfare and more dysfunction in the schools, on the streets and in the homes.

  2. The family court industry has destroyed so many fathers that some men are not interested in getting married. Women, meanwhile, are trained in school to prioritize careers over families.

    • I’d say the legal problems (which certainly do exist), are probably not the main reason for declining marriage rates. Most people don’t think of the legal ramifications before they do anything—much less get hitched.

      But you’re completely right on the educational bias.

      I’d add that I think the primary cause is the entertainment industry & media: the media kids consume as children & teenagers has a profound impact on their development. Everything today promotes horizontal bonding (between peers), as opposed to the historic norm of vertical bonding (kids with parents & older role models).

      Mass education has made it worse, as rather than bond with mom/dad working on the farm or in their cottage industry, children are herded around in classrooms with predominantly other children. This means they are primarily socialized with other children—they end up never growing up because they lacked the necessary examples etc.

      • “I’d add that I think the primary cause is the entertainment industry & media:”

        When you are brave enough and man enough to answer the question: Who controls media & entertainment? You will have the answer you seek, but the truth is far too scary for normies to swallow. So enjoy the decline until you are read to answer The Question.

        • Avoiding marriage is hardly “fighting back”—the further breakdown of traditional gender roles & the family is exactly what they want.

          As far as I understand it, MGTOW is basically a reactionary anti-feminism movement, ie. it wouldn’t exist without the former. It seems to be a toxic response to a (perhaps more) toxic stimulus.

          Or perhaps I’m mistaken & I’ve simply mis-characterized MGTOW. Please advise.

          • Educate yourself… Or just go through the family court (aka slave market) system. Any man that would expose himself to marriage has to be a full on white knight or just a fool.

            • I do family law, and while there’s probably some bias in favor of the women it’s by no means determinative. Almost everything is statutorily mandated, so there’s not a lot of discretion for judges to act in the interests of women.

              Of course it differs by jurisdiction—I hear some are quite bad, but most are fine. Perhaps it’s because I’m in Canada that I don’t see it has a problem.

              Either way, I think the MGTOW movement is largely counter-productive, a reactionary movement that will do more harm to the family unit than would otherwise occur.

  3. Not a frigging word about Welfare, much less a word about punishment. Yes, in the day of JFK, if a women (a WAC) got pregnent JFK would kick her out a of the Army with a general discharge. If a secretary showed up at work pregnent with no husband, she was fired. No Welfare, plus punishment, and the illegitimacy rate would fall like a rock. This system worked for the last two thousand years; but we know better today.

  4. Oh my, quite concerning! Our families are the foundation for our nation and yet the family is suffering attack after attack. I feel for women who, out of no fault of their own, find themselves in this situation. Most of them do not desire to be in that situation. They need help and support to raise their kids. What I am VERY concerned about is those who choose to be in this situation.

    Also, if we returned to biblical ethics, that would do a lot to solve this problem – but alas, little hope for that in this self-centered narcissistic world that worships self and freedom to put yourself and your own desires above the good of others – even your own kids.

    However, those who do choose to follow God’s law will, in the end, reap the blessings of such a choice. Let’s lead by example. I’m sure the statistics show clearly the blessing to a child where there is both a mother and a father in the home.

  5. A woman can raise successful children alone. If a woman is getting older and wants a child maybe she freezes her eggs. So at a later date she has a backup plan to raise children. I feel it depends upon the person doing the raising. Look at the lunatic couple in California with 13 kids. Two parents but both crazy.

  6. I know a lot of godly, educated Christian women who are unable to find godly men in the church or outside of it. They would love to be married, and have not put their career first, but are not able to find a godly, decent man. Some of them chose to adopt as a single woman or go through IVF so they can have a family. But it was never their desire or first choice.

    • Your comment really resonates with a lot of people we know. The church has failed miserably in teaching Biblical principles of manhood and challenging males (young and old) to be real, godly men. We need pulpits sounding the clarion call.

      And yes, single moms can do well raising families alone, but the road is much harder and the outcome less certain. Supporting and encouraging them should be another high priority for the church. God help us!

  7. Racial or ethnic group Percent of births considered “non-marital”
    Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders 17 percent
    Europid / Crackers 29 percent
    Hispanics 53 percent
    American Indian and Native Alaskans 66 percent
    Negros 73 percent

    So, why didn’t you use a picture of an Asian?

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