20-Something Unmarried Moms on the Rise [AUDIO]
The teen pregnancy rate is on the decline, but the new face of the unwed mother is a young 20-something who has graduated high school and is more than likely living with the child's father. Why the shift?
These young women may technically be unmarried, but they may still be partnered.
"Well over half of all births today to single moms are happening to women who are cohabiting with a partner," said Deborah Carr, Sociology Professor at Rutgers University. "So, I suspect that well over half of these women are living with a boyfriend or a man who is like a spouse to them even if they're not legally married yet. I think that's an important wrinkle that sits behind some of these statistics."
Single Parent Stigma Disappears
Secondly, the stigma associated with single parenthood has virtually disappeared.
"Women used to be looked at very harshly if they were raising a child on their own. It used to be considered a silly decision and one that would ruin a child's life. Today, I think we have a more open view. We recognize that some of these women may be educated, they may have plenty of money. Even if they don't they may have a support system to help care for this child," said Carr.
Women today have a lot of role models. In fact, many were raised by single mothers themselves.
"Many women who were raised by single mothers turned out just fine," said Carr. "You can pick up any copy of People Magazine and see a single mother. The single celebrity mother may have way more money and more access to child care than your typical 20-something woman, but they've helped to reduce that stigma of single motherhood."
Many women know they want to have a child at some point and they are very aware of the limits to their reproductive capacity.
"Women in their thirties and forties are starting to learn that within each passing year, they're less likely to give birth to a biological child. Many women decide to have a child while they can and figure they have plenty of time to do the other things they want to do," said Carr.