Out-of-Wedlock Births Plateau and maybe begin Decline

The out-of-wedlock birth ratio or illegitimacy ratio was 40.2% in 2014; that is down, yes DOWN, from 41.0% in 2009.  This is the first time since 1950 that the illegitimacy ratio has declined over a 5 year period.

This is the comparison between 2009 and 2014 of births and out-of-wedlock ratio by racial group for the United States:

Definitions: “OoW Ratio” means Out-of-Wedlock Ratio.  “Births” means the proportion of all births that were of the indicated race.  “nhWhite” means non-Hispanic White.


nhWhite Black Hispanic


2009 OoW Ratio


29.0% 72.3% 53.2% 17.2%
2014 OoW Ratio


29.2% 70.4% 52.9%


2009 Births


53.6% 15.9% 24.2%


2014 Births

100.0% 53.9% 16.1% 22.9%


The out-of-wedlock birth ratio was first tabulated in 1917 when 2.0% of all births were illegitimate births; births outside of marriage (1.3% among whites and 12.0% among blacks).  The illegitimacy ratio then climbed relatively slowly but steadily from 1917 to 1960; the out-of-wedlock birth ratio being 5.3% in 1960 (2.3% among whites and 21.6% among blacks).  Then after 1960 the increase in illegitimacy accelerated increasing exponentially from 1960 to 1994 going from 5.3% in 1960 to 32.6% in 1994 (close to 21.5% among whites and 70.4% among blacks).  Then starting in 1994 the first social conservative backlash hit where the growth in the out-of-wedlock ratio suddenly slowed down; the peak year so far for the out-of-wedlock birth ratio being 2009 when the out-of-wedlock birth ratio stood at 41.0% (29.0% among whites and 72.3% among blacks).

Among blacks the out-of-wedlock birth ratio hit 70.4% in 1994; then fell steadily to 68.2% in 2003; then rose steadily up to 72.3% in 2009 (it’s all time peak so far); and since 2009 has fallen steadily down to 70.4% in 2014 (the same level it was at in 1994).  Among whites the out-of-wedlock birth ratio was 21.5% in 1996; after 1996 this ratio rising continuously up until its peak so far at 29.3% in 2013; the year 2014 being the first time the white out-of-wedlock birth ratio ever declined from one year to the next since 1996.

It seems to me that 2009 represents the start of the second social conservative backlash; this backlash being more powerful (and hopefully more durable) than the backlash that hit in 1994 and petered out by 2003.  Illegitimacy going from 32.6% in 1994 to 34.6% in 2003; then illegitimacy rising fast again going from 34.6% in 2003 up to 41.0% in 2009.

Looking at the first 5 years of these two respective social conservative backlashes it is pretty clear that the backlash starting in 2009 is more powerful than the backlash that started in 1994.  The out-of-wedlock birth ratio went from 32.6% in 1994 to 33.0% in 1999; a rise of 0.4 percentage points.  On the other hand the out-of-wedlock birth ratio went from 41.0% in 2009 to 40.2% in 2014; a decline of 0.8 percentage points.  After 2009 there was a major decrease in the proportion of births to young women; 34.4% of births being to women under 25 in 2009 falling to 28.4% of births in 2014.  From 1994 to 1999 the proportion of births to women under 25 went from 38.4% to 37.1%.  That being a fall of 1.3 percentage points from 1994 to 1999 versus a decline of 6.0 percentage points from 2009 to 2014.  So the move of women having their births at an older age was much greater from 2009 to 2014 than it was from 1994 to 1999.

Though not directly connected to the out-of-wedlock birth ratio I think the most significant difference between the first conservative backlash that started in 1994 versus the second conservative backlash that started in 2009 is the sharp decline in the ratio of married women in the workforce with the second conservative backlash.  The proportion of married women in the workforce went from 60.7% in 1994 to 61.2% in 1999; on the other hand married women in the workforce went from 61.4% in 2009 to 58.4% in 2014 (58.4% being the lowest level of married women in the workforce since 1990 when it was also at 58.4%).  This kind of fast decline in married women in the workforce is radically new and coincides exactly with the recent plateauing / small decline in the out-of-wedlock birth ratio which is itself the first time the out-of-wedlock birth ratio has not risen over a 5 year period since 1950.  This recent fall in married women in the workforce since 2009 is a strong signal of marriage being taken more seriously by men and men showing a greater inclination to support their wives in their feminine role as women in the context of marriage; this extra support of women in marriage then encouraging women to have their children within marriage rather than outside of marriage.

Another point of interest is that the fertility rate of married women as compared to unmarried women (the fertility rate of married women 15 to 44 years old divided by the fertility rate of unmarried women 15 to 44 years old) is at its highest level since 1990; the married fertility ratio being 2.03 in 2014 (this married fertility ratio being 2.13 in 1990 and 1.99 in 1991).  The married fertility ratio hits its lowest level in 2008 at 1.68 and since 2008 has risen steadily up to 2.03 in 2014.  This married fertility ratio started at 7.25 in 1960 and then fell continuously to 1.79 in 1994; then rose up to 1.99 in 2002; then fell again down to 1.68 in 2008; and then since 2008 has risen continuously up to 2.03 so far in 2014.

Social decline, the worsening of family functioning, probably started around 1850 with the end of coverture.  Definitely social functioning was going down steadily by 1870; 1870 being when national statistics regarding women working and divorce were first put together.  Social decline was slow and steady from 1870 to 1960; then after 1960 with the invention of “gender equality” family functioning fell apart much more quickly than before.  Finally finally the first effective backlash against this family destruction appeared to materialize in 1994; the increase in illegitimacy suddenly slowing down sharply in the years immediately following 1994.  Alas however the protective effect from this 1994 backlash pretty much disappeared by 2003 regarding the out-of-wedlock birth ratio; the out-of-wedlock ratio resuming its rapid increase after 2003.

When 2009 came around however there was another conservative backlash against family destruction in store; this time the attack against family destruction packing a bigger punch, in particular married women being driven out of the workforce being a part of the campaign to add value to marriage.

Will this second conservative backlash peter out and lose effectiveness in a couple of years time?  I doubt it because married women leaving the workforce at the speed they did from 2009 to 2014 is truly new indicating that the previous plateau of married women in the workforce from 1997 to 2009 has now turned into an outright trend of persistent decline and if married women continue to leave the workforce steadily that means the value of marriage will continue to increase meaning the proclivity of women to have their children within marriage will increase meaning the decline in the out-of-wedlock birth ratio will continue.

At some point in the not so distant future I believe a third conservative backlash will form more powerful than the backlash that started in 2009.  This third conservative backlash might be heralded by the end of marriage declining among women of fertile age.  If that happened while the other positive trends remained in place then the out-of-wedlock birth ratio would be falling at a rapid pace instead of declining just barely as is happening now.  The proportion of women 15 to 44 years old who were married in 1960 was 71.1%.  In 2009 45.6% of women of fertile age were married; this dropping to 42.3% in 2014.  If there was no drop in the proportion of women of fertile age who were married from 2009 to 2014 but the marriage fertility ratio of 2014 compared to 2009 remained the same then the out-of-wedlock birth ratio in 2014 would have been 37.1%; in other words if marriage rates had stayed the same instead of declining from 2009 to 2014 the illegitimacy ratio would have dropped significantly from 41.0% to 37.1% rather than dropping slightly from 41.0% to 40.2% as happened in reality.  So all that needs to happen for out-of-wedlock birth ratios to drop rapidly is for marriage rates to stop declining while the other positive trends that are going on remain in place.

Shockingly, apparently, the strength or value of marital unions is now increasing and is currently at the level it was in 1990.  This assessment being based on the fact that the proportion of married women who were in the workforce in 2014 was equal to the proportion who were in the workforce in 1990 (58.4% being in the workforce in both years) and also the strength of the preference of women to have their children within marriage as opposed to outside of marriage was about equal in 1990 as compared to 2014 (the married fertility ratio being 2.13 in 1990 and 2.03 in 2014).  The problem is that the proportion of women of fertile age who were married in 1990; 57.4%; was much higher than it was in 2014; 42.3%.

Here are some tables and graphs to explain what has been going on with fertility and out-of-wedlock births:

Definitions: This table gives the out-of-wedlock birth ratio according to age group of mother all races combined for the years 1979 to 2014. Source is National Center for Health Statistics Natality or Birth Data reports.

 Illegitimacy Ratio by Age Group 1979 to 2014 United States


1984 1989 1994 1999 2004 2009




21.0% 27.0% 32.6% 33.0% 35.8% 41.0% 40.2%


55.6% 66.7% 75.5% 78.7% 82.4% 87.2% 88.6%


24.5% 35.1% 44.9% 48.5% 54.8% 62.1% 65.7%


11.8% 17.1% 21.8% 22.9% 27.8% 33.8%




9.0% 12.6% 15.1% 14.0% 16.1% 20.7%



7.9% 10.7% 13.3% 16.1% 14.4% 15.2% 19.0%



10.3% 13.8% 15.9% 18.7% 16.5% 18.2% 21.4%


Definitions: This table gives the proportion of births by age of mother all races combined for the years 1979 to 2014.  Source is National Center for Health Statistics Natality or Birth Data reports.

Distribution of Births by Age of Mother 1979 to 2014 United States


1984 1989 1994 1999 2004 2009


Under 20


13.1% 12.8% 13.1% 12.3% 10.3% 10.0%




31.1% 26.7% 25.3% 24.8% 25.2% 24.4%




31.8% 31.3% 27.5% 27.2% 26.9% 28.2%




17.9% 20.8% 22.9% 22.5% 23.5% 23.1%




5.3% 7.3% 9.4% 11.0% 11.6% 11.5%




0.8% 1.1% 1.7% 2.2% 2.7% 2.8%


Definitions: This table gives the proportion of women who are married according to age group all races combined for the years 1979 to 2014.  Source is Current Population Reports from the Census Bureau.

Proportion of Women who are Married by Age Group 1979 to 2014 United States


1984 1989 1994 1999 2004 2009




12.5% 9.0% 8.0% 5.9% 3.6% 3.2%




39.4% 34.6% 31.4% 23.5% 21.7% 18.8%




65.6% 62.4% 57.7% 51.6% 50.2% 45.5%




74.2% 71.9% 68.7% 63.5% 63.8% 61.9%




77.5% 75.3% 73.0% 67.5% 67.4% 67.3%


Illegitimacy Ratio All United States 1917-2014

Fertility Ratio 1960 to 2014

Definitions: The below table gives the Married Fertility Rate and the Unmarried Fertility Rate and the Ratio of the Married Fertility Rate divided by the Unmarried Fertility Rate for years of significance: 1960 being the beginning year; 1990 and 1991 being the years whose Ratio is immediately above and below the Ratio seen in 2014; 1994 being a local minimum regarding Ratio; 2002 being a local maximum regarding Ratio; 2008 being the year with the minimum Ratio; and 2014 being the end year.  The Married Fertility Rate is the number of births per 1,000 married women aged 15 to 44 years old.  The Unmarried Fertility Rate is the number of births per 1,000 unmarried women aged 15 to 44 years old.  “Married Fertility” refers to the Married Fertility Rate and “Unmarried Fertility” refers to the Unmarried Fertility Rate.  “Ratio” is “Married Fertility” divided by “Unmarried Fertility”.

  Married Fertility Unmarried Fertility Ratio


21.6 7.25





















88.9 43.9




Related Articles:

Women’s Labor Force Participation Hits New Low since 1989

The Cultural Revival has Already Started! Good news since 1995!

The Feminist Explosion 1960 to 1995

Source of Statistics

Vital Statistics of the United States
Natality Reports from different years

National Vital Statistics Reports
Births: Final Data from different years

Statistical Abstracts of the United States
Part 2 – Section 1 Population – Marital Status of the Population by Sex and Age from different years

Current Population Survey Data on Families and Living Arrangements
Detailed Tables – Adults – Table A1 from different years

Bureau of Labor Statistics
Data Tools – Multi Screen – Employment – Labor Force Statistics – One Screen Data Search


About Jesse Powell TFA

Anti-Feminist, MRA, Pro-Traditional Women's Rights Traditional Family Activist (TFA)
This entry was posted in Social Statistics and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Out-of-Wedlock Births Plateau and maybe begin Decline

  1. Pingback: Donald Trump Seems to Herald the Third Social Conservative Backlash | Secular Patriarchy

  2. Crystal says:

    Dear Jesse,

    What do you believe about abortion, and its role in society? Seeing that you are atheistic and secular as well as holding more traditional opinions on men’s and women’s roles, I’m curious as to your perspective on this very controversial issue.

    Furthermore, one way to reduce abortion rates is to accept the solo mothers and offer maternity leave and social safety nets. I haven’t read the entire article so please forgive me for missing a few points but that is my opinion.

  3. I believe abortion should be either outlawed or only allowed with the husband’s consent. If an unmarried woman is pregnant that might be more difficult to deal with; my inclination would be to say that an unmarried woman would need the permission of her registered partner to have an abortion, it being her decision if she has no registered partner. The husband then would automatically be considered to be a woman’s registered partner. A man would become a woman’s registered partner based on both the man and woman consenting to the man becoming the woman’s registered partner.

    My primary concern regarding the present female supremacist laws regarding abortion, that it is the “woman’s right to chose” as they say, is that this is a violation of the man’s reproductive rights and necessarily pushes men away from taking on the parental responsibilities and sense of duty and obligation towards children that men should show and live up to. It is not “natural” to view children as being primarily a woman’s responsibility, it is a pathology.

    It makes perfectly good sense from a societal perspective to shun and socially stigmatize out-of-wedlock births. The man and woman shouldn’t be having sex outside of marriage to begin with and definitely it is harmful to the child for the woman to not make sure she is in a stable secure relationship with a man first before bringing a child into the world.

    • Crystal says:

      Thank you for answering the question. I am personally surprised, yet not surprised, to see you holding this position. I’m surprised because you claim to be a secular atheist. OTOH I am not surprised because your position is so very traditional.

      Would you describe yourself as prolife?

      If you want my opinion, I think it should be illegal, husband be damned, because of the absolute damage it is doing to society. Also, replaced with superior alternatives that permit bodily autonomy to the woman while permitting the child to live; you see my objection is not that abortion grants women unnecessary power but rather that it takes human life. I don’t want to return women to a Victorian world because women do need to have their rights to self-assertion intact (by necessity, I would be returned to such a world, and would thus be hurting myself as well), and at the same time I’m concerned about the little lives that die in an abortion and want to see the little people live. None of this is feminism, at least not according to my legal abortion advocate friends.

      That being said, I completely understand the objections of women to the statement of “needing her husband’s permission,” regardless of where they stand on both sides of the fence; doesn’t mean I agree with all aspects of said objections especially when it comes to the legal abortion advocate position. My prolife friends would say that it is because men push women into abortions far more often than they can count, and because little unborn girls matter as much as the born ones. My friends who support legalised abortion would say, it is because women have the right to determine what can happen to their bodies, their bodies are the ones that will bear the brunt of the pregnancy, and they should not be reproductively coerced to become parents against their wills by messing with their contraception, etc. If my husband tried to control me like that, I would object strongly despite my firm anti-abortion stance.

      You say it should be her decision if she has no registered partner. Firstly, if men are supposed to have this much power over women, how come then that she can all of a sudden make this decision for herself if no one else is around to make it for her? Also, if her registered partner raped/violated her, should he really have that kind of power over her life? What if her registered partner happens to be her brother, father, uncle, grandfather, and committed incest with her?

      I’d recommend you read this satirical piece by a rapist thanking the GOP for passing anti-rape-abortion laws. It’s chilling. Since you say you value women so very much, I hope it would stir your heart to feel protective as well:


      As for visitation rights of the father, rapists should not have them!

      If it is not natural for children to be seen as the woman’s responsibility, but rather a pathology, how come this isn’t the case 99% of the time? How come that the woman has the responsibility to bear children and raise them in the home, and must stay at home to do this? I’m afraid this is a logical inconsistency in your worldview that you need to seriously consider.

      That being said, I can understand why you believe men should have a strong say over their unborn child’s life. I think so too, because he is the father after all and if he can protect that child, well and good. I am for his respecting a woman’s self-determination as well, and I believe women respond best to cherishing life when their desire for self-determination is respected (perhaps this is wishful thinking on my part but I hope not). I simply wouldn’t take it to the same extent as you would.

      A friend of mine wrote an excellent article dealing with men, abortion, and sexism; I recommend you read it:


      I am not sure how “right to choose” violates men’s reproductive rights though, can you explain? In regards to taking on the responsibility of a father, men choose abortion because they know they have to support that child if they don’t (so on the point of abortion stopping men from stepping up to the plate and looking after their children, I agree). So they are already taking charge of their girlfriends’/wives’ bodies and reproductively coercing them into abortion even when women want to keep the babies. Yes, reproductive coercion is a thing. Please read up on it. It is something I as a prolifer especially have to watch.

      If it makes perfectly good sense from a societal perspective to shun and socially stigmatise out-of-wedlock births then good luck with men stepping up to the plate and taking charge of their responsibilities as fathers, that is all I have to say because women are the ones that bear the brunt of this nonsense, usually, not men. You can say “I would shame a man if I knew who he was” but those are just shallow words that don’t fit with the reality. The very practice you despise as a sign of “female supremacy” is encouraged by such behaviours as slutshaming, which is what you seem to be advocating for in this last paragraph of yours and is NOT cherishing and respecting women.

      I can understand that it is harmful to a child not to have an emotionally secure foundation so on that level I grok you. One thing though – supposing a single virgin lady got herself implanted with a couple of frozen embryos via IVF because she wanted to save them from embryonic stem cell research, should she be shamed for that? I mean, she looks like she had them outside of wedlock, don’t she?

      Last but not least, how does tokophobia figure into your worldview? I am particularly curious because I struggle with tokophobia myself.

      I do hope we can chat more and debate the issues. I am enjoying this. I hope you are too.

  4. Pingback: Donald Trump and the End of the Growth of Social Liberalism in the Political Realm | Secular Patriarchy

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