Fewer women in New Jersey are having babies than six years ago, and fewer of New Jersey’s new mothers are married, according to the latest data from the US Census Bureau.
In 2013, about 101,000 New Jersey women aged 15-50 — 4.7 percent of all women in the state — gave birth, the latest data from the American Community Survey shows. That compares with 115,000, or 5.3 percent of all, in 2007. Two years ago, roughly one-third of women who gave birth were unmarried at the time. In 2007, only 29 percent of new mothers were not married.
The trend in New Jersey mirrors that of the nation. In 2013, nationwide, 36 percent of women who had a baby were not married, up from 33 percent six years earlier. And the percentage of women who gave birth dropped slightly, from 5.5 percent to 5.2 percent. Almost 6 in 10 women age 15 to 50 nationwide was a mother.
In a study of births to first-time mothers, Census officials wrote that the trend has important implications.
“It’s important to track these changes in fertility because recent research suggests that childbearing is related to women’s rates of employment, their educational attainment and their economic well-being,” said demographer Lindsay Monte of the Census Bureau’s Fertility and Family Statistics Branch and one of the report’s authors.
The report further states, “Other research connects the circumstances into which a child is born to that child’s later outcomes, including their likelihood of living in a single-parent household and their academic achievement.”
Data for New Jersey shows correlations between married mothers, education and poverty.
For instance, in 2013, two-thirds of new mothers who did not finish high school were unmarried, while 96 percent of mothers with graduate degrees were married. Similarly, 80 percent of married new mothers were not living in poverty, but 65 percent of unmarried women who gave birth in 2013 had income amounting to less than 200 percent of the poverty limit.
The Census study found unmarried women were not necessarily raising their child alone, with growing numbers living with a partner. In fact, the study found, “the most recent cohort of young mothers is much more likely to have had their first birth in a cohabiting relationship than in marriage.”
In the early 1990s, at least half of all first births to mothers younger than age 23 occurred in marriage, the data shows. But since 2005, 38 percent of young mothers were living with someone, while just 24 percent were married at the time of their first birth.
In New Jersey, a quarter of unmarried women who had a child in 2013 were living with a partner.