In her new book Generation Unbound: Drifting into Sex and Parenthood Without Marriage, Isabel Sawhill explores the changing relationship between marriage and parenthood. Things have changed a lot over the decades -- in the past, most single parents were a product of divorce, and stereotypical single mothers were high school dropouts.
Recently, the demographics have flipped: single parents are more frequently never married -- the average woman has her first child before she is married, and a majority of first births out of wedlock are to women with a high school diploma or even some college. Teenage pregnancy rates have plummeted in the past two decades, but 20-somethings have a new host of unwanted pregnancies -- 70 percent are unplanned, and just under half are carried to term.
The reasons behind single parenting may be shifting, but in her book, Sawhill describes similar consequences -- increased poverty. Rather than advocate for more marriages or increased social support, Sawhill argues that more births should be by design, and calls for more and better options for long term birth control.
Should women focus more on birth control methods that prevent pregnancy in order to raise a child in planned circumstances with more financial stability? What is the best form of family or birth planning -- what roles do finances and relationship stability play?
Isabel Sawhill, author of “Generation Unbound: Drifting into Sex and Parenthood without Marriage.” (Brookings Institution Press, 2014)