37.8 Percent in Generation That Starts Turning 21 Next Year Was Born to Unwed Moms

By Terence P. Jeffrey | November 14, 2018 | 4:56am EST
(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

In the 20-year cohort of American young people who were born in the years from 1998 through 2017 — and will start turning 21 next year — 37.8 percent were born to unmarried mothers, according to data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

80,913,887 children were born during that two-decade stretch; 30,611,650 did not have a father who was married to their mother.

To put that in perspective, the CDC data shows that among the 20-year cohort of Americans born from 1940 through 1959 — who started turning 21 in 1961 — only 4.1 percent were born to unmarried mothers.

70,257,595 babies were born in those two decades, but only 2,905,000 did not have a father who was married to their mother.

In 1947, two years after World War II ended, 3,669,940 babies were born in the United States, according to the CDC. Only 131,900 — or 3.6 percent — were born to unmarried mothers.

Seven decades later, in 2017, 3,855,500 babies were born in the United States. Of these babies, 1,533,901 — or 39.8 percent — were born to unmarried mothers.

An American born in 2017 was 11 times more likely than an American born in 1947 to be born to an unmarried mother.

If you consider a generation to span 25 or 30 years, as opposed to just 20, the numbers do not get much better for the youngest set of Americans.

Among the 100,538,871 born in the 25 years from 1993 through 2017, 36,913,140 — or 36.7 percent — were born to unmarried mothers.

Among the 120,823,472 born in the 30 years from 1988 through 2017, 42,617,637 — or 35.3 percent — were born to unmarried mothers.

By contrast, 109,066,004 babies were born in the 30 years from 1940 through 1969, and only 5,761,400 — or 5.3 percent — were born to unmarried mothers.

During the first 29 of those 30 years, the annual percentage of babies born to unmarried mothers never broke 10 percent. It hit that number precisely in 1969.

By 2008, it would break 40 percent and then stay above 40 percent for eight straight years.

In the past two years on record — 2016 and 2017 — it has dipped slightly to 39.8 percent.

What happened to America in the last 50 years? Why has there been a massive increase in the percentage of babies born to unmarried mothers?

The left cannot argue it is because Americans have lacked access to contraception and abortion.

In 1970, when 10.7 percent of American babies were born to unmarried mothers, Congress enacted the Title X "family planning program."

The Department of Health and Human Services says this program "is designed to provide access to contraceptive services, supplies and information to all who want and need them."

In fiscal 1971, Congress spent $6 million on it. By 1973, it was spending $100.6 million on it. This year, it will spend about $286.5 million.

In the 47 years Title X has been in operation, Congress has spent about $9.5 billion on it, according to HHS. Yet at the same time, the number and percentage of children born to unmarried mothers increased dramatically.

In 1971, when the government spent only $6 million on Title X, the 401,400 babies born to unmarried mothers accounted for 11.3 percent of all births. By 2017, when the government spent $286.5 million, the 1,533,901 babies born to unmarried mothers accounted for 39.8 percent of all births.

In 1973, the Supreme Court ruled on Roe v. Wade, declaring abortion a "right." That year, the 407,300 babies born to unmarried mothers accounted for 13 percent of all births, and according to the Guttmacher Institute, 744,600 babies were aborted in America. Two years later, in 1975, abortions in the United States topped 1 million.

Then, for 38 straight years in the period after enactment of Title X and Roe (1975-2012), according to the Guttmacher Institute, there were at least a million abortions each year in the United States.

In 2013, fortunately, the number of babies aborted dipped below a million to 958,700. In 2014, the number dropped to 926,190 — which, sadly, was still more than the 744,600 in 1973.

In 2017, according to the latest data from the Census Bureau, 51.7 percent of Americans under 18 lived in a household where at least one person received means-tested government assistance. And 77.1 percent of kids living in a family headed by a related woman with no spouse lived in such a household.

The eras of abortion on demand, government-funded "family planning" and unmarried motherhood have run side by side in the United States of America.

If we want to remain a self-sufficient and independent people, we need to restore our respect for the right to life and the traditional family.

Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor in chief of

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