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Increase Found in Birthrate for Unwed Women

TIMES STAFF WRITER

American women, who have demonstrated an increasing desire to delay or avoid marriage over the past three decades, appear to be shedding their inhibitions about having babies out of wedlock, Census Bureau officials said in a report released Tuesday.

Between 1960 and 1964, nearly half of all single women who were pregnant with their first child entered into marriage before the baby was born. But a generation later, between 1985 and 1989, only one in four unwed mothers was married by the time she gave birth, according to figures in the report.

The pattern of increasing single motherhood crossed racial and age lines, the report showed. Altogether, 28.5 million unmarried women gave birth between 1985 and 1989, more than double the 12.7 million who did so between 1960 and 1964.

The annual assessment of fertility rates, conducted as part of the Census Bureau’s ongoing population studies, was based on a survey of about 60,000 households in 1,973 counties and municipal areas across the country.

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Overall, of the 58 million American women between the ages of 15 and 44 in June, 1990, 3.9 million reported having given birth during the preceding 12 months, for an estimated fertility rate of 67 births per 1,000.

Among Latina women, the fertility rate was much higher: 93 per 1,000, compared to 64.4 per 1,000 among all non-Latinas. The fertility rate for black women was 78.4 per 1,000, higher than the 65.2 per 1,000 reported for white women.


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