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College Cutting Births Out of Wedlock Rates

Update Date: Jun 16, 2014 08:31 PM EDT

Some girls dream about snagging their prince, getting married and becoming mothers, while others strive to revolutionize traditional gender roles by getting an education and career.

However, new research reveals that girls who want their wedding should really consider going to college.

While having babies before tying the knot is becoming more popular among less-educated adults, new research reveals that most millennial moms who skip college also skip marriage.

New research reveals that 74 percent of mothers and 70 percent of fathers between the ages of 26 and 31 reported having a least one child outside of marriage. Furthermore, 81 percent of births reported by women and 87 percent of births reported by men were linked to non-college graduates

"Clearly the role of marriage in fertility and family formation is now modest in early adulthood and the lofty place that marriage once held among the markers of adulthood is in serious question," sociologist Andrew J. Cherlin said in a news release. "It is now unusual for non-college graduates who have children in their teens and 20s to have all of them within marriage."

"If marriage retains its place anywhere," Cherlin added. "It would be among the college graduates, because most of them do not begin to have children until after they are married. 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."

The latest study involved a sample of 9,000 "early adults" who reached ages 26 to 31 in 2011. Researchers said that adults in this group are commonly known as millennials.

The study reveals that 53 percent of women had given birth to at least one child and 64 percent of the mothers had at least one baby when they weren't married. Researchers noted that that 47 percent of mothers in the study had all their babies before getting married.

The study also revealed that the percentage of unwed pregnancies increase as maternal education level declines. Researchers note that the statistic is similar for fathers.

The findings revealed that 32 percent of mothers who completed four or more years of college had at least one baby while unmarried. However, 67 percent of mothers who attended only one to three years of college, 71 percent of those with only a high school diploma and 87 percent of those without a high school diploma had at least one baby while unmarried.

Surprisingly, only 36 percent of mothers in the study had all their babies while married.

"The literature on early adulthood often suggests that this period can be a valuable time of self-exploration free of adult responsibilities," said Cherlin, the Benjamin H. Griswold Professor of Public Policy at Johns Hopkins. "But this characterization would seem to better apply to well-educated middle-class early adults with their typically long period of college attendance, perhaps followed by graduate school, and their postponement of childbearing until after marriage."

The findings were recent presented to the Population Association of America. 

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