A new report shows that while the birth rate among unmarried women in the US is on the rise, it is still far behind in comparison to trends witnessed in Northern European countries.
The number of infants born out of wedlock in the US hit an historic high of 1,714,643 in 2007.
Countries including France, Denmark, the United Kingdom and Iceland each have a higher rate of births to unwed mothers than in the US.
Iceland has the most, with 6 in 10 births among unmarried women. In Sweden and Norway, about half of all births are to unwed mothers.
In the US, the percentage of babies born to unwed women is about 40 percent, according to the new CDC report issued on Wednesday.
Countries with lower percentages than the US include Ireland, Germany, Canada, Spain, Italy and Japan.
The new CDC report draws its conclusions based on data collected from previous studies in comparison to up-to-date information.
Stephanie Ventura of the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics told the Associated Press that unmarried births have undergone significant percentage increases in the US and at least 13 other industrialized nations since 1980.
“Basically we’re seeing the same patterns,” Ventura said.
“The values surrounding family formation are changing and women are more independent than they used to be,” Carl Haub, a demographer at the Population Reference Bureau in Washington, D.C., told the AP. “And young people don’t feel they have to live under the same social rules that their parents once did.”
Unmarried women in the US are typically paid less and are uneducated, said analysts.
Most births to teenagers ““ 86 percent in 2007 ““ are nonmarital. Also, 60 percent of births to women between the age of 20 and 24 and nearly one-third of births to women 25-29 were nonmerital in 2007.
“Teenagers accounted for just 23 percent of nonmarital births in 2007, down steeply from 50 percent in 1970,” said the report.
However, in Northern Europe, men and women tend to live together in long-term relationships without getting married, Haub said.
He added that the overall number of births would decline globally due to the troubled economy. However, the he expects the rate of children born to unwed mothers to continue to rise.
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