The percentage of children born to unmarried couples rises worldwide.
A report released by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) shows an increasing trend of babies being born to unmarried parents. While the trend seems to be most prevalent in the West, the majority of countries studied saw the rate of children born out of wedlock increase or remain steady.
In the U.S., about 40% of children born in 2016 had unmarried parents. This is more than twice as high as the rate in 1980 and ten points higher than it was in the 90s. While the US numbers are high, they are far from in the lead. In 2016, 60% of babies born in France were to unmarried couples. France rose even higher than Sweden, the country which previously had the highest rate, in 2010.
Of all the countries examined by the study — the United States, France, Spain, Sweden, the EU, Japan, and Russia — Russia was the only exception to this upwards trend. In 2004, Russia was at an all time high of 30%, which has dropped significantly to 22%. Russia has also seen their abortion rate drop during the same 12-year period.
The country with the lowest rate of babies born out of wedlock is still Japan, which reports 98% of children born to married couples. However, Japan also continues to have the lowest fertility rate in the world.
CNA notes that a 2012 report by Heritage Foundation Senior Fellow Robert Rector described marriage as “America’s greatest weapon against child poverty.” The statistics support this theory, as children with married parents are 82% less likely to live in poverty.
The 2009 the US Census found that 37% of single-parent households were below the poverty line, while only 6.8% of married families were in similar financial situations. In 2017, the organization Save the Children rated the Scandinavian countries Sweden, Norway, and Finland, as among the most accommodating for single mothers.