January 21, 2013
Just as the AP Stylebook advised journalists against using the term “illegitimate child,” illegitimacy is becoming more widespread in the United States.
Now more than half of all births to American women under 30 are born out of wedlock, and the trend in marriage-less birth is becoming an accepted reality of American life.
According to an analysis of government data, conducted by the research group Child Trends and reported by The New York Times, the last 20 years have seen illegitimacy among white women in their 20s with some college — but not a full four year degree — rise more quickly than in other groups.
While the middle class is seeing a rise in illegitimacy, 59 percent of all American births are within marriage. Indeed, it is college graduates and the upper class which have been able to stay within the bounds of tradition and marry prior to reproducing, The Times reported.
A number of factors have led the the rising numbers of illegitimacy — which most researchers agree increases a child’s risk of emotional problems and falling into poverty — including, as The Times noted, economic factors that have thinned the number of available, marriageable men; a larger social safety net; and a more promiscuous society.
Outside of the educational differences, there are distinct differences in the marriage rates between different races: 29 percent of white children are born to unmarried women, 53 percent of Latinos and 73 percent of black children.