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Study shows education influences whether women have children outside of marriage

Nearly half of all children are born to unmarried mothers, which could be problematic because the women who are having children out of wedlock are generally less educated and more likely to live in poverty.
Emily Hales, Deseret News Modified: June 20, 2014 at 4:33 pm •  Published: June 21, 2014

Waiting to get married to have children is becoming a thing of the past, at least for women who don't have a college degree.

Several studies over the past few years have found that the number of single mothers is surpassing the number of married mothers. The study "Knot Yet: The Benefits and Costs of Delayed Marriage in America," a report from the National Marriage Project, called the trend "The Great Crossover." And a new study presented at the Population Association of America found a direct correlation between education levels and the likelihood of having a child out of wedlock.

The less education a woman has, the more likely she is to have a baby without being married. Eighty-seven percent of women without a high school diploma have a child out of wedlock. The number decreases to 71 percent for high school graduates, 67 percent for women with one to three years of college and 32 percent for women with four or more years of college.

“The clear line is whether you have a four-year college degree,” the study's lead author, Johns Hopkins sociologist Andrew Cherlin, told The Atlantic. “There are two clear paths through adulthood — one for people who have a bachelor's degree and one for people who don't."

He explained that less-educated women are having children out of wedlock mainly because they don't see many other options. They aren't going to college, they aren't advancing professionally and having a child is an indicator of adulthood they can't achieve through other means.

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