"Octomom" Nadya Suleman, whose father is an Iraqi immigrant, received in vitrofertilization and delivered octuplets. Professors of ethics and fertility expertsbuzz about the negative health consequences for the children and there are many. But what about the social and economic costs of 14 children, all under the age of seven, who must be supported by an unmarried woman?
Right from the start, babies of single mothers are at a disadvantage. "Fetal and Perinatal Mortality, United States, 2005" from the Center for Disease Control reads:
"In 2005, 49% of fetal deaths were to unmarried women, as compared with 37% of live births. . . .Marital status may be a marker for the presence or absence of social, emotional, and financial resources."
Poor, fatherless children are less likely to receive proper nutrition, health care and cognitive stimulation. The boys are more likely to commit serious crimes than their peers with a male presence in their lives. The daughters of unmarried women are more likely to be unwed mothers themselves. Archives of literature exist on this topic.
In January, lost amidst all the news about the failing economy, the inauguration and the war in Gaza, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) released a rather dry press release with the terse headline:"Teen Birth Rates Increase in Over Half of States". [PDF]On the second page, one of the bullets reads:
"The birth rate for unmarried women increased 7 percent between 2005 and 2006, reaching 50.6 births per 1,000 unmarried women aged 15-44 years. "
The underlying 104 page document "Births: Final Data for 2006"[Births: 2006] contains this stunning statement:
"More than 1.6 million babies were born to unmarried women in 2006, the highest number ever recorded in the United States. The 2006 total (1,641,946 births) was nearly 8 percent greater than in 2005 (1,527,034) and a 20-percent increase from 2002 when the recent steep increases began."
This is dreadful news. The total number of births in 2006 was 4.3 million, so illegitimate births amounted to 38.5% of the total. Back in 1980, only 665,747 unmarried women gave birth, 18.4% of the total.
These numbers are not estimates. They are actual numbers compiled by the CDC from birth certificates generated at the local level and reported to the respective states and then to the CDC.
Why this huge increase in unwed mothers? The CDC says that the increase in the 80s and early 90s resulted mainly by an increase in the birth rate for unmarried women. In addition, the CDC states in Births: 2006, "the factor in the long-term increase in the number of births was the growth in the number of unmarried women of childbearing age." [PDF](My emphasis)
The table below shows the percentage of births to unmarried mothers by race and ethnicity for years 1990 through 2006. (CDC, Vol 52, Num 19 and Births: 2006) Birth rates are not broken out by all races and ethnicities for this entire period.
From this, one can see that the proportion of births to unmarried, non-Hispanic white women and the percentage to unmarried, Hispanic women rose the most—by 9.7 and 13.2 percentage points, respectively. Note, however, that the proportion of unmarried Hispanic mothers of newborns is considerably higher than that of non-Hispanic white mothers—almost double in 2006.
According to the CDC, the rate and "the growth in the number of unmarried women of childbearing age" caused the rise in out-of-wedlock births. Below is a table showing the change in all annual births between 1990 and 2006.
"Non-Hispanic All" includes other women besides whites and blacks.
The numbers do not add to the total births because some women`s race and ethnicity are unknown and because some women are multiple races and ethnicities. Nevertheless, this table shows that births to non-Hispanic whites and blacks decreased between 1990 and 2006. But births to Hispanic women increased. (Annual Asian/PI births also increased, from 141,635 in 1990 to 241,045 in 2006).
During the same period, 1990 to 2006, births to unmarried women rose dramatically, from 1,165,384 (28% of all births) to 1,641,946 (38.5% of all births). And births to unmarried Hispanic women rose from an annual 299,733 births in 1990 to 518,125 births. In other words, 63% of the increase in births to unmarried women between 1990 and 2006 was to Hispanics. The table below summarizes these changes.
Births to Unwed women
Births to Unwed Hispanic
Hispanic as a % of all
Who are these Hispanic women? In Births: 2006, Table 14 shows that 63% of Hispanic women were foreign-born, mostly Mexicans (69% of Hispanics) and Central and South Americans (16% of Hispanics).
Significantly, U.S.-born Hispanics have an even higher out-of-wedlock rate than do foreign-born women. For example, the last time the CDC broke out the rates by natality of mother was in Births: 2003. [PDF] In that year, Births: 2003 shows that U.S.-resident women born in Mexico had 41% of their births out of wedlock; Mexican-American women had 48% their births out of wedlock.
Birth rates for unmarried women are calculated by relating the total births to unmarried mothers, regardless of age, to the population of unmarried women aged 15-44 years of age. In 2006, NH-White women 32; all Black women 71.5 and Asian/Pacific Islander women 25.9—and Hispanic women had a birth rate of 106.1. In simple words, Hispanics have more children per woman than do all other groups of women.
How can America reduce the number of illegitimate births? Quit importinguneducated, Third World immigrants.
How can America change the behavior of American-born Hispanic women—often the children of those illegitimacy-prone immigrants? That is a Medusa of a problem.
Linda Thom [email her] is a retiree and refugee from California. She formerly worked as an officer for a major bank and as a budget analyst for the County Administrator of Santa Barbara.