Nearly 40 percent of women in the United States have never been married, an all-time high, according to new data from the National Center for Health Statistics.
USA Today is reporting that the study, based on 12,279 women between the ages of 15 and 44, found that the number of never-married women rose from 33 percent in 1995 to 38 percent today. There are also fewer women today in first marriages, down from 44 percent in 1982 to just 36 percent today.
The highest percentage of women who have never married was among blacks (55%) followed by U.S.-born Hispanics (49%), Asians (39%) and whites (34%).
According to the Heritage Foundation’s Foundry blog, these trends have consequences for society as a whole, and especially for single women with children.
“While lower education levels are associated with higher rates of poverty, having a child outside of marriage dramatically increases the likelihood that a woman and her child will be poor and dependent on welfare across education levels. For example, the poverty rate among single mothers with less than a high school diploma is over 45 percent. However, contrast this with only 15 percent of married-parent homes at the same education level.”
Considering the link between unwed childbearing and poverty and the high rate of unwed births to lower educated women, many researchers are beginning to describe the formation of a two-caste system with marriage and education being the dividing line between the two.
“Marital decline is a tragedy also because many lower- and moderately educated women deeply value marriage. In fact, they are just as likely to say that marriage is ‘very important’ or ‘one of the most important things’ as are their more highly educated peers. These women also place a high priority on motherhood,” the blog asserts.
This is why efforts to encourage and rebuild marriage in America are so crucial, says Professor Brad Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia.
“The disappearance of marriage in Middle America would endanger the American Dream, the emotional and social welfare of children, and the stability of the social fabric in thousands of communities across the country.”
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