HEADLINES Published June6, 2015 By Bernadette Strong

Fewer Unmarried Men Are First-Time Fathers in the U.S

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The number of  younger men who have children outside of marriage has gone down.
(Photo : Dan Kitwood, Getty Images)

According to a U.S. government report, there are fewer young fathers who are having a first child outside of marriage. The percentage of fathers aged 15 to 44 whose first child was out of wedlock went down in the 2000s; the first decrease in the  previous two decades. The biggest decrease was seen among black first-time fathers.

Even so, 36%--more than one third of men in that age range-had a first child when they were not married to the child's mother. The percentage of first time fathers who were unmarried in the 1980s was 42%. The percentage that were unmarried in the 1990s was 40%.

Twenty-four percent of fathers who had a first child in the 2000s had them with a woman with whom they were living, which means that the father is living with his child. This percentage is also up from the 1980s and 1990s, when the percentage was 19% and 23%, respectively.

These statistics are in a data brief from the National Center for Health Statistics, a unit of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The data come from the National Survey of Family Growth and involved interviews with both men and women aged 15 to 44.

Much of the drop in unmarried young men having children for the first time was seen in black men. The percentage dropped from 77% in the 1980s to 66% in the 2000s. The percentage of Hispanic or white unmarried young men having children for the first time stayed about the same.

The percentage of unmarried fathers of a first child who are under age 20 went down from 42% in the 1980s to 23% in the 2000s. At the same time, the percentage of unmarried fathers over age 25 with a first child rose from 8% to 33%.

The patterns for unmarried fathers differ from those of unmarried mothers, the report noted. Data for women showed that the share of all births that occurred to unmarried women doubled between 1988 and 2009 to 2013. This increase was driven by an increase in the share of births to cohabiting women. 

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