Here’s a bit of good news (IFS, 8/16/18). And indeed it is just a “bit.” But good news is good news, even if there’s not a lot of it.
The rate of out-of-wedlock childbearing is declining. It’s dropped to under 40% of all births, the first time that’s been the case since about 2004. It rose steadily from 1960 to about 2008 and has declined until 2015, the last year for which we have full data. The declining trend is the more remarkable because adults of childbearing age are getting married later than ever and the incidence of cohabitation is greater. Those two things would tend to militate in favor or greater non-marital childbearing, but instead the rate is coming down.
Needless to say, this is good news that I hope will continue. Children born to and living with single parents tend strongly to do worse than children living in intact families. The evidence for that has been developed over decades and is overwhelming. But at some point in the late 60s and early 70s, we as a society got the bright idea that fathers were expendable, that all children really needed was a single primary caregiver. Unsurprisingly, that person was all but invariably Mom.