Monday, May 24, 2010

Motherhood statistics

According to results from a new report released last week, the face of motherhood has shifted significantly during the past two decades. Today's mothers of newborns are older and better educated, they are less likely to be white, and less likely to be married. Among the key findings of this report:

• Age: Mothers of newborns are older now than their counterparts were two decades ago. In 1990, teens had a higher share of all births (13%) than did women ages 35 and older (9%). In 2008, the reverse was true — 10 percent of births were to teens, compared with 14 percent to women ages 35 and older.

• Marital Status: A record four-in-ten births (41%) were to unmarried women in 2008, including most births to women in their early 20s. In 1990, 28 percent of births were to unmarried women. The unmarried-mother share of births has increased most sharply for whites and Hispanics, although the highest share is for black women.

• Race and Ethnicity: White women made up 53 percent of mothers of newborns in 2008, down from 65 percent in 1990. The share of births to Hispanic women has grown dramatically to one-in-four.

• Education: Most mothers of newborns (54%) had at least some college education in 2006, an increase from 41 percent in 1990. Among mothers of newborns who were ages 35 and older, 71 percent had at least some college education.

• Attitudes About Parenthood: When asked why they decided to have their first (or only) child, the overwhelming majority of parents (87%) answer, "The joy of having children." But, nearly half (47%) also say, "There wasn't a reason; it just happened."

All the trends above reflect a complex mix of demographic and behavioral factors. For example, the higher share of college-educated mothers stems both from their rising birth rates and from women's increasing educational attainment. The rise in births to unmarried women reflects both their rising birth rates and the shrinking share of adults who are married.

This report examined the changing demographic characteristics of U.S. mothers by comparing women who gave birth in 2008 with those who gave birth in 1990 and is based on data from the National Center for Health Statistics and the Census Bureau, as well as results of a nationwide Pew Research Center survey. []

No comments: