The trends and statistics of legitimate births
have changed over the centuries. The percentage of unmarried women having illegitimate
babies are at an all-time high and the number increases every year. However,
unwed mothers are no longer the outcasts of society that they once were. In
fact, statistically unwed mothers give birth to four in ten babies born each
year in the United States. The historic reality was very different.
were very few children born out of wedlock. The number has skyrocketed
recently. Almost half of all children are born out of wedlock in the United
States. The number of babies born to unwed mothers jumped from 1.4 million in
2002 to 1.7 million in 2007. The number is forecasted to increase to 2.4 million by 2012.
One reason is said to be an increase in sexual activity due to the
availability of birth control. While birth control is never 100% effective, it
is much more effective now than in the past. While birth control prevented some
unwanted pregnancies, there were many others that it did not stop. Many of
these accidental births would be illegitimate, since it was illegal for
unmarried couples to obtain birth control.
Another reason for the jump in births outside of wedlock is
changes to the laws that affect children born to unwed parents. Since the
updated Legitimacy Act of 1987, all the old stipulations that gave legitimate
children more rights than illegitimate ones were abolished. Along with the
updated laws came a new attitude about children born out of wedlock. As the
social stigma diminished and women began to have less fear
about raising children without husbands, the number of illegitimate
Children born out of wedlock are no longer automatically
considered illegitimate. Legitimacy now refers to a father’s acknowledgment of the
child. As long as a father acknowledges paternity, whether voluntarily or through a paternity suit, then the child is entitled to receive
support from both parents. A father may acknowledge a child whether he and the
mother are a couple or not. Some couples decide to postpone or forget about
marriage and raise their children together. Other couples split up or never
decide to be together in the first place.
Statistically, in terms of race Hispanic and black women give
birth to the largest number of babies out of wedlock. Of every 1000 children
born, 30 born to white women were born out of wedlock, while black women gave
birth to 70 out of wedlock children, and Hispanic women to 100.