Single Mothers, Many Problems

A married household is still the best way to raise kids.
Wall Street Journal 1 Dec 06
The latest data on unwed motherhood–from a tabulation of official birth records throughout the U.S. by the National Center for Health Statistics–are mostly grim. In 2005, births to teenage girls continued a decline under way since the early 1990s (although half of all first babies born out of wedlock still are borne by teens). Yet after a few years of leveling off, the birthrate among unmarried mothers 20 and older has begun climbing again, especially among Hispanics.Looking for a silver lining in a country where about 37% of children are born outside marriage, some commentators have chosen to speculate that many of today’s single moms are in fact hip, prosperous women, perhaps in their 30s or older, who have decided that they don’t need a husband to fulfill their dreams. We’ve even seen the suggestion that the unwed trend reflects America’s evolution as a more tolerant, diverse country when it comes to “lifestyle choices.”Yet experts who have looked closely at the phenomenon have hardly anything positive to say. Past research indicates that the bulk of unwed births are to young women, typically in their 20s, who are not college-educated and are not prospering. There’s also a mountain of evidence to suggest that children raised by such single mothers are at an increased risk for virtually every social problem you can think of–poverty, crime, drug use, etc.–including single parenthood.