April 23, 2012
The number of babies born to unmarried couples who are living together in America has increased dramatically during the past decade, according to a new report by the National Center for Health Statistics, Baptist Press reports. About 23 percent of the reported births in the study -- based on interviews of 22,000 men and women from 2006 to 2010 -- were to unmarried heterosexual couples who were cohabitating when the child was born. In 2002, the figure from a similar study was 14 percent. "We were a little surprised in such a short time period to see these increases," said Gladys Martinez, lead author of the report. The study did not attempt to explain the increase, but a sociologist from Ohio's Bowling Green State University said the decline in marriages could be attributed to the economy. Another sociologist, Kelly Raley of the University of Texas-Austin, said, "It just could be that it's OK now to have a kid outside of marriage." Brad Wilcox of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, said children with cohabitating parents were three times more likely to experience their parents' breakup by the age of 5 than children whose parents were married. "They have less stability, security, legal and cultural support," he said.