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Rate of Babies born to Unmarried Women Declined, CDC Reports

Update Date: Aug 13, 2014 11:09 AM EDT

A new report analyzed the birth rates in groups of unmarried women with different ages. The researchers with the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the birth rate for women who were not married but were cohabiting with their partner has declined in recent years with the exception of women over 35-years-old.

For this study, the researchers analyzed data taken from the National Center for Health Statistics that were collected from 2002 to 2013. The researchers focused on the birth rate of unmarried women because this group of women has been linked to having a greater risk of pregnancy complications, which include premature delivery, low birth weight and infant death.

Overall, unmarried women accounted for 40.6 percent of all births in 2013. Even though this percentage is relatively high, it represents a decline from about 50 percent in 2008. From 2002 to the late 2000s, the percentage of unmarried women giving birth was on a steady incline with nearly 50 percent of the pregnancies being intended. However, from 2007 through to 2013, the birth rate has been on a steady decline.

"It's still high compared with previous generations, but there has been a decline," said report author Sally Curtin, a statistician at the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, according to Philly. "Since the 1940s, except for a few brief periods, there has been almost a continued increase in non-marital childbearing,"

According to the report, the decline in the birth rate for unmarried women started in 2007 during the recession. The declines were more noticeable in African-American and Hispanic American women in comparison to white women. The birth rates for unmarried black, Hispanics and white women fell by 11 percent, 28 percent and six percent respectively from 2007 to 2012. In 2012, unmarried Hispanic women still had the highest birth rate.

The researchers reported one exception. In unmarried women who were older than 35, their birth rate increased by seven percent from 2007 to 2012. By 2012, nine out of every 1,000 births were to unmarried women between the ages of 40 and 44. Despite the declines, the experts believe that the rates have leveled out and could start to go up once again.

"The post-recession birth decline is over. We are predicting that births will trend up among every group except teenagers in the next few years," demographer Sam Sturgeon, who was not a part of the federal report, said according to USA Today. "A lot of family-related statistics have started to level out. The marriage rate was declining for years pretty consistently and now it seems to have leveled out. The divorce rate was going up and seems to have leveled out. The number of children growing up with two married parents declined for many years but also seems to have flattened out. We've seen kind of a stabilization of family in America."

The report can be found here.

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