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Issue 1561 November 25, 2012
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UNMARRIED PARENTS: Only 35% of Moms Have Partners, Pew Research Shows

Social Fabric Rent by Weakness in Family Life Leading to Drop in Births

June 25, 2018       Leave a Comment
By: Dave Rogers

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As continues its analysis of social trends leading to a drastic reduction in the population of children of school age, new national research reveals alarming shifts in domesticity that appear to be at the root of the problem.

It is our contention, backed by extensive statistical data, that fractures in family life leading to fewer children are threatening our workforce and the enrollments of public schools and colleges.

For example, Julie Mack of the Kalamazoo Gazette observes in a recent analysis that births to unwed women in the mid-Michigan area in 2016 exceed the state average, 44% to 41.5%. Bay's percentage of births to unmarried women is at 45%, Midland's at 32% and Saginaw's at 55%, she wrote.

In fact, the share of children living in a two-parent household is at the lowest point in more than half a century, according to a separate 2014 report, "Parenting in America," also released by the Pew Research Center. Approximately 69% of children are in two-parent households versus 73% in 2000 and 87% in 1960. And 62% of children live with two married parents -- an all-time low.

"A shift in culture, being children of divorced parents, better access to reproductive care, prioritizing college over marriage, and sharing debt are some of many reasons people don't get married as much as they used to," states an Arizona lawyers group.

Nowadays, two out of five births in the United States happen to couples that are not married. Unfortunately, the law treats these children of unmarried couples and the unmarried couples themselves very poorly compared to married couples with children. Thus, the entire structure of American life and the social fabric in Michigan specifically are subject to insidious erosion.

While local social service agencies scramble to find reasons for drops in high school and college enrollments, many observers point to a drop in the birth rate without examining reasons for this drop.

Little is being done by business, governments, charitable institutions and foundations that has any great effect in shifting this sagging dynamic.

States the Classroom publication: "if no one is moving into the school district, lower birth rates, in general, can gradually decrease school enrollments. These problems are frequent in rural areas and exacerbate the already limited funding that these schools receive.

The high school dropout rate of about 20% also eats into funding and limits the ability of schools to offer comprehensive academic programs. This further undermines the performance of operating schools.

About one-quarter of parents living with a child in America in 2018 are unmarried, up from 7% five decades ago, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.

This trend to co-parent without getting married has also reduced the rate of single mothers, who accounted for 53% of unmarried parents last year versus 88% five decades ago, the study found. Today, 35% of all unmarried parents are living with a partner.

However, cohabiting parents are younger, less educated and less likely to have ever been married than single or solo parents, the report said. Single parents have fewer children on average than cohabiting parents. The share of unmarried parents who are fathers has more than doubled to 29% over the past 50 years, the report said. A larger share of solo parents than cohabiting parents live in poverty (27% versus 16%).

The drastic reduction in the number of children of school age is destructive to the workforce that is already under assault by factors such as poverty, drug use, lack of transportation and the instability of many families. Obviously, the economy of Michigan is at serious risk.

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Dave Rogers

Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
respected journalist/writer in and around Bay City.
(Contact Dave Via Email at

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