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Millennial Moms Are More Likely to Be Single Than Married, Study Says

Study says more millennial moms are single than married
Photograph by Getty Images/iStockphoto

A new study released by John Hopkins University has highlighted some interesting shifts in maternal stats — namely, the fact that only one-third of millennial moms (ages 26 to 31) are married when their kids are born. And about two-thirds are unmarried when at least one of their kids arrives.

The shift seems to be most prominent in those who never took the college track, whereas millennial moms with a college degree are more likely to have tied the knot before becoming pregnant. “It is now unusual for non-college graduates who have children in their teens and 20s to have all of them within marriage,” researcher Andrew Cherlin recently told TIME. (Cherlin co-authored the study, which was titled “Changing Fertility Regimes and the Transition to Adulthood: Evidence from a Recent Cohort.”)

It's probably no surprise that all this is happening, though, as marriage hasn't exactly enjoyed the glowing reputation it once used to. In fact, experts have been tracking its decline for years.

“The lofty place that marriage once held among the markers of adulthood is in serious question,” says Cherlin.

When looking at millennial parents aged 26 to 31 without college degrees, Cherlin found that 74 percent of the moms and 70 percent of dads welcomed at least one bundle of joy while single. In addition, 81 percent of births reported by women and 87 percent reported by men were of those who didn't finish college, either.

You can get a closer look at some of the stats pulled for the study below. The chart brings in data from the National Longitude Study of Youth 1997, which analyzed those born between 1981 and 1984, and highlights all of the births reported by millennial moms who didn’t finish high school. It also notes how old they were when their kids were born, and whether or not they were married. As you can see, only about a quarter were married, about a third were living with someone (but this wasn't necessarily their child's father), and about 40 percent were single.

Compare this to the next chart below, which highlights millennial moms who did graduate from college, and you can see that the age they marry tends to be much later. And just as births increase along the chart, so do the number of marriages. “If marriage retains its place anywhere, it would be among the college graduates,” said Cherlin, “The difference between them and the non-college-educated with regard to the percentage of births within marriage is so striking as to suggest a very different experience of early adulthood.”

Are you surprised at all by these stats?

Chart images via John Hopkins

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