Young, Unmarried, with Children
A teen mother and her son in Boston, MA in March, 2003. (AP Photo/Patricia McDonnell)

A teen mother and her son in Boston, MA in March, 2003. (AP Photo/Patricia McDonnell)

Everyone knows the schoolyard chant: “First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in the baby carriage.”

For a long time, that was the story most women in America lived. But these days it sounds more like an old wives’ tale.

New research finds that more than 50 percent of all births to women under 30 are out of wedlock. Fifty years ago, it was 6 percent.

It’s the unintended consequence of big shifts in culture and policy, and it’s got long-range implications for the way we live.

This hour, On Point: Unmarried, with children. And what that means for America.


Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University and lead author of a forthcoming studyshowing that more than half of births to women under 30 are out of wedlock.

Sara McLanahan, sociology professor and director of the Center for Research on Child Wellbeing at Princeton University

Carmen Patterson-Worrell, volunteer coordinator for Birthing Project/Sister Friend, a program of the Brooklyn Perinatal Network

Lisa Ward, single mother of two.

Additional Links:

“A Dubious Milestone,” by New York Times columnist Bob Herbert

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