WASHINGTON — Oklahoma's birthrate for unmarried women was well above the national average in 2011, according to a new report by the U.S. Census Bureau that links single motherhood to low incomes and a lack of education.
The census report — based on a survey rather than an actual head count — showed that nearly 40 percent of the births in Oklahoma in 2011 were to unmarried women; that was nearly four percentage points above the national average.
According to the census estimates, 21,333 children were born in Oklahoma in 2011 to unmarried women, out of a total of 53,718 births.
The rates in Oklahoma's metropolitan areas were not significantly different from the national average.
Ten states had rates topping 40 percent. In Louisiana and Mississippi, more than 48 percent of the births were to single women. The rate in the District of Columbia was 51 percent.
However, despite big increases in the past decade in the rate of births to unmarried women, the trend has apparently reversed in recent years, according to the National Vital Statistics System.
That federal office reports that the nonmarital birthrate declined 3 percent in 2011 from 2010, the third straight year of decline; the rate was down 11 percent over those three years.
Nationally, 57 percent of the women without a high school diploma who gave birth in 2011 were unmarried, the census report shows. The rate was 9 percent for women with a bachelor's degree.