According to Cherlin- a sociologist “I project that among college-educated women currently in their thirties who will ever have a first child, 18% to 27% will be unmarried at the time of the birth”. “The place of marriage in the sequence of life events for emerging adulthood may be shifting among college graduates.”
The data were compared from three major surveys ; the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, and the National Survey of Family Growth.
The study says that the percentage of first birth outside marriage has increased in all educational levels and the increase is greatest among college-educated women. Most of the women without high school degree were unmarried at first birth and women with high school degree were less likely to be unmarried than the women with no degree. About half of high school educated women were unmarried at first birth.
In the year 1996 only 4% of college-educated women who were in their 30s had their first child before wedding and twenty years later the proportion has increased six times to 24.5% and most of the women who had their first child were unmarried.
The reasons for the change are; money problems, lower economic returns and widespread cultural acceptance for unmarried couples living together and single parenthood.
“Young adults may postpone or forgo marriage until and unless they have attained certain economic markers such as home ownership or an income comparable to the married couples around them,” says Cherlin.