Blog Post

Census Reports More Childless Women and Out-of-Wedlock Births

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS Staff Writer A new report issued by the U.S. Census Bureau shows that more than 28 percent of children born in the year preceding the 2006 survey were born to women who had never been married. In addition, more women are remaining childless into their 40’s, and those who are having children are having fewer than ever before. The report entitled “Fertility of American Women: 2006” was based on data from an annual survey of 76 million women ages 15 to 50. It found that the number of women aged 40 to 44 with no children has doubled from 10 to 20 percent over the last 30 years and women who are mothers have an average of one child fewer than women in the same age group in 1976. However, this downward trend in fertility does not hold true for every ethnic group. Foreign born Hispanic women who are not citizens have the highest birth rates, while second-generation Hispanic women are having fewer children than their mothers and grandmothers. Overall, foreign born women had a higher birth rate of 71 births per 1,000 women compared to 52 births per 1,000 women for native born women. The report also found that unemployed women had almost twice as many babies as working women, although women in the labor force accounted for the majority — 57 percent — of recent births. Only a quarter of all women who had a child over the past year were living below the poverty level. Differences among states also emerged. California, Nevada, Texas, Arizona, Florida, Illinois, New York and New Jersey had a greater percentage of foreign-born women who became mothers in 2006. A bigger share of women in the Southeast and Southwest who gave birth in the year prior to the survey did so in poverty. Andrew Cherlin, a sociology professor at Johns Hopkins University, commenting on the report in the press, said the larger number of childless women could cause demographic problems in the future. "It means that 25 years from now, there'll be many elderly people who are childless and who may not have anybody to care for them." Pope Benedict XVI has spoken frequently about the problem of low birth rates which have been decimating the native population of many European nations. In 2006, while addressing the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, he said the decline in birthrates is due, ultimately, to a lack of love. While many factors contribute to the global decline in birth rates, “Its ultimate roots can be seen as moral and spiritual,” he said. “They are linked to a disturbing deficit of faith, hope and, indeed, love."    He warned that the lack of love which inhibits the acceptance of children as a gift from God is also harming the children. "It is children and young people," he said, "who are often the first to experience the consequences of this eclipse of love and hope . . . Often, instead of feeling loved and cherished, they appear to be merely tolerated."     © All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly/Women of Grace.