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Posted: Thursday, 02 May 2013 7:10AM

Surging number of unmarried moms, a sign of the times?

There is a clear trend in the U.S. of more babies born to moms who are not married.   Louisiana has the highest rate of any state with nearly half of all children born to mothers who are single.

The figures come from the U.S. Census Bureau, and show 48.7% of all births are to unmarried mothers in the state. Nationally more than a third, 36% of children are born to unwed woman.

LSU sociology professor Troy Blanchard says it reflects the national trend of more people living together and not tying the knot, along with more acceptance of woman having children out of wedlock.

"One of the issues driving this is... the decoupling of child bearing and marriage," Blanchard explained.  "There has been a decline in the stigma."

The professor says perhaps Louisiana women are delaying marriage until they meet a man who'll be an adequate partner and co-provider, but don't want to wait to have children.

He also suggests more and more woman may feel they can get by without getting married.

"Women are gaining more economic independence over time, so they are less dependent on entering into a married couple arrangement," Blanchard said.

Blanchard says it's a sign of the times and a culture that's grown less critical of unwed mothers than in the past.

And while the report shows that nearly a third of all unmarried mothers are women with less than a high school degree, that means that more than two-thirds are educated with at least a high school diploma.

Many critics suggest the trend is a result of women seeking government benefits by remaining single.  While that may a small be a part of the issue, the figures show that well more than half of all the unwed women having children have household incomes of more than $25,000 per year.
In fact, the number of unwed mothers with household incomes of more than $50,000 annually is higher than the number with less than $15,000.

Click here to see the full Census report...

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Locations : Louisiana
People : Troy Blanchard
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