Education Opinion

More on the Cohabitation Issue

By Richard Whitmire — August 17, 2011 1 min read
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The New York Times did a great job reporting this. Look at the trend data they have for men and women with only a high school diploma:

The increase in unmarried couples cohabitating and having children swept poor communities beginning in the late 1960s, Mr. Wilcox said, citing data from the National Survey of Family Growth, and now has moved into working class and lower-middle-class families. Out-of-wedlock births among white women with a high school diploma rose more than sixfold in recent decades, the report said, jumping to 34 percent in the late 2000s, from 5 percent in 1982. In contrast, the rate for white college graduates stayed flat at about 2 percent. While births to white women in cohabiting relationships rose by about two-thirds from the early 1990s to the mid-2000s, the proportion jumped by about half for black women and nearly doubled for Hispanic women, though that increase was affected by a large influx of immigrants, said Sheela Kennedy, a research associate at the Minnesota Population Center, which conducts demographic studies and whose work was cited in the new report. "There's growing evidence that families that would be unstable anyway are just skipping marriage," Ms. Kennedy said.

This is the confluence of two powerful forces -- changes in the economy disadvantaging traditional blue collar jobs and the growing education gender gap. Fewer white men from blue collar families qualify as “marriage mates,” producing the same out of wedlock birth patterns we saw among African Americans in an earlier time.

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