Income Inequality Leads People to Have Children Before Marriage

They're skipping the marriage part and going straight to parenting.

It used to be pretty taboo to have a child before you were married, but now, as more young people face financial insecurity, it’s becoming increasingly normal.

According to a study released by the American Sociological Review, income inequality is leading people to forgo marriages and simply have children anyway.

Apparently, financial pressure is enough to scare us out of marriage, but not enough to prevent us from raising a child – because that makes sense.

From Bloomberg:

About half the subjects, who were 26 to 31 years old in 2011, reported having had at least one child; 59 percent of those births were outside of marriage … Here’s the twist. About 80 percent of all births in the sample were to women without four-year college degrees, and women who lived in areas with high income inequality were 15 to 27 percent less likely to be married before having a first child than women in areas with low inequality.

It’s not that people are having kids earlier in life, it’s that the middle labor market jobs that non-college grads used to have no longer exist for people without degrees.

Essentially, these unmarried couples are eager to have children but based on their current financial situations don’t feel they’re ready to tie the knot.

Obviously, this logic is pretty flawed. Raising a child is much more expensive than getting married. Sure, weddings themselves can be expensive, but the partnership is then afforded tax breaks and, of course, none of this even compares to the associated costs of having a kid.

That’s not to say that marriage doesn’t come with it’s own expenses. Couples want to purchase homes and cars, go on vocations together and do all the other stuff normal married couples do. However, as job prospects for the lower- and middle-classes have dried up, they’re not seeing futures where they can afford those luxuries. Having children is still a priority for many of them, so they skip the marriage part and go straight to parenting.

The longer we ignore root problems of income inequality, like access to new economy skills training, the number of children born into financially unstable homes will continue to rise.


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Cover image: Getty


Posted 07.15.2016 - 01:51 pm EDT

Filed under

Economy News

Written by

Michael Gorman