For the first time in American history, more than half of all births to American women under 30 are occurring outside of marriage.
That's what Child Trends, analyzing data from the National Center for Health Statistics, found out. The New York Times reported this over the weekend with an apt lead: "It used to be called illegitimacy. Now it is the new normal."
This is more important than a trend, because trends are easy to reverse. This is an ooze, a sociological horror film that could be titled The Blob That Ate America. Ask no more why the lives of the next generation, on average, are likely to be more difficult economically (and in many other ways) than that of the baby boomers.
As Bowling Green State University researcher Susan L. Brown (and many others) have found, children born to married couples, on average, "experience better education, social, cognitive and behavioral outcomes" than others.
Many single moms try hard and are overwhelmed. The Times article ends with a vignette about one of them, Lisa Mercado, who is taking a nursing course and working an all-night job at a gas station, so she rarely sees her 6-year-old: "I want to do things with her, but I end up falling asleep."
The sins of the fathers affect their children. The Times, explaining why some women don't get married, noted, "Some unwed mothers cite the failures of their parents' marriages as reasons to wait. Brittany Kidd was 13 when her father ran off with one of her mother's friends, plunging her mother into depression and leaving the family financially unstable.
"Our family life was pretty perfect: a nice house, two cars, a dog and a cat," she told the Times. "That stability just got knocked out like a window; it shattered." Kidd, 21, added that she wouldn't think of marrying her son's father, who she said she loves: "I don't want to wind up like my mom."