The issue of “who’s minding the kids” is now taking back seat to “who is having the kids.” The just-released Census Bureau Report, “Social and Economic Characteristics of Currently Unmarried Women With a Recent Birth, 2011,” (SECCUM) describes for the first time the demographic details of non-marital childbearing — and it is not a pretty picture. The report reveals dramatic increases in non-marital births and is the first Census Bureau report showing the relationship of non-marital births to geographic variations and educational attainment. It is depressing yet unsurprising that with median age of women at first marriage approaching 27 years of age, 62 percent of women ages 20-24 who gave birth in 2011 were unmarried. Among new moms ages 25-29, 32 percent are unmarried, with 17 percent of those in their late 30s not married. The steady increase in non-marital births, as well as the marked increases in recent years, have been noted by social scientists, but largely ignored by the general public.
Likewise, social scientists have noted the significant demographic divides related to fatherless families — huge education, economic, racial, and geographical divides — and a mountain of data has accumulated over the past decade documenting these facts; I have reported extensively on these problems in my columns and in my book, Children at Risk: The Precarious State of Children’s Well-Being in America (Transaction Publishers, 2010). The prevalence of the problem and the demographic divides are there for anyone to see who ventures out in public or talks to public school teachers, or sadly, to law enforcement officers or social workers.