Real-Life Baby Mamas Poor, Unwed, but Not Going It Alone, Study Says

Filed under: In The News, Research Reveals

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In the movie "Baby Mama," Tina Fey plays a single woman who drafts a South Philly working girl, played by Amy Poehler, to be a surrogate. Real-life baby mamas don't have it so easy. Credit: Karunpillai/Universal

Baby mamas, you've come a long way. One-fourth of new moms in the United States live in poverty, but, among unmarried moms, one-third are living with someone else and not raising their children alone, according to the most recent Census figures reported in a release.

Of the 1.5 million unmarried women who gave birth during the period between June 2007 and June 2008, about 425,000, or 28 percent, were living with a co-habitating partner, according to figures compiled in the Census Bureau's Fertility of American Women 2008 report. Also significant is the fact that the number of working mothers who gave birth jumped to 61 percent from 57 percent during the same time period, the report shows.

The unmarried moms included those who were separated and those married with an absent spouse, according to the report, which finds that 4 million women aged 15 to 44 gave birth during that one-year time span.

Of the one in four new mothers who fell below the poverty line, Montana, West Virginia, and the southern tier of states from Arizona to South Carolina had higher-than-average poverty rates.

"The report shows that many unmarried new moms are not raising their child alone," says demographer Jane Dye, who authored the report, in the release. This is actually the first time the Census Bureau has reported on births to women in co-habitation relationships, she says. One of the report's data sources, the Current Population Survey, recently added a direct question on co-habitation in order to measure this population.

The report found that the overall number of births for American women is on the downswing. By the time women reached ages 40 to 44 in 2008, they averaged 1.9 births, down from 3.1 births in 1976, when the Census Bureau first collected data on fertility.

This reflects the decline in the likelihood of women having three or more children, as well as the increase in women not having any children at all, the report notes.

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