More educated women having babies outside marriage: research

More college-educated women in their 30s are having babies outside of marriage, according to a study done by a sociologist at Johns Hopkins University.

The research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday shows surveys from 2017 and 2018 pointing to 24.5 percent of women ages 32 to 38 having children outside of marriage, The Wall Street Journal reported.

In 1996, that number was at 4 percent. The study used demographic data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health and the National Survey of Family Growth.

The study determined that 18 to 27 percent of women in their 30s will be unmarried when they have their first child. 

College-educated women who have a child outside of marriage are more likely to be married by the time they have a second child and more likely to be married to the person they had the first child with, according to the study. 

Although having babies outside of marriage has risen among college-educated women, it is still more likely for those with less education to have a child outside of marriage.

Six in 10 women ages 32 to 38 with just a high school diploma had a baby outside of marriage. The number is at 86.5 percent for those in the same age group without a high school diploma. 

“A generation ago, the percentage of college-educated women having children outside of marriage was negligible,” the sociologist who conducted the study, Andrew Cherlin, said. “It’s no longer a rare event.”

“We might be seeing a trend toward a more European pattern of childbirth and marriage in which young adults have a child before marrying,” he added.

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