First Comes Baby Then…Who Cares?

July 29, 2016  |  

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If you were an unwed pregnant woman(especially a young one) in 1952 you would have more than likely been judged by your family, by society, and possibly talked into going into one of the many “unmarried mothers homes” that were run by various charities. Not only was it viewed as highly immoral to be unmarried and pregnant but the women were also sometimes coerced into giving their children up for adoption.

Now, in 2016 that stigma is long gone and a new study from the American Sociological Review shows that millennial women are choosing to make having babies a priority over marriage.

The study was led by Johns Hopkins University sociologist Andrew J. Cherlin who found that the greater the income inequality in an area and the scarcity of jobs, the less likely young men and women are to marry before having a first child. They also found that without the men having access to adequate work they don’t feel they are good marriage material and women aren’t willing to sacrifice not having kids because of that.

The study followed 9000 people from 1997 when they were in their early teens until 2011 when they were in their mid twenties. 53 percent of the women and 41 percent of the men reported having had at least one child and 59 percent of those births occurred outside of marriage.

Cherlin, the Professor of Public Policy in the Krieger School of Arts and Science talked about why income inequality played a part in the decision to get married and start a family. He said, “We think the answer is yes for those who don’t graduate from college. Places with higher income inequality have fewer good jobs for those young adults. They don’t foresee ever having the kinds of well-paying careers that could support a marriage and a family. But they are unwilling to forgo having children. So with good jobs in limited supply and successful marriage looking unlikely, young women and men without college degrees may go ahead and have a child without marrying first.”

He continued saying “For many young adults, having a child is still one of the most satisfying experiences they can imagine. And if there’s nothing else for a young person to look forward to, at least they can do that…they believe that being married is optional. But having a child is mandatory.”

While the study focused on the millennial generation, they aren’t the only ones putting kids first. In an article on Parenting.com 39 year old Jennifer Lum was single after multiple failed relationships but her maternal urge had set in and she said, “While I would have loved to share the experience of raising a child with a husband, I didn’t want to get married just for that reason.”

So she placed a personal ad for a “baby daddy” and ended up having over 100 takers. After narrowing down three guys she chose the math whiz with the witty charm and after a month together she was pregnant. Co-parenting ended up not working out and now she raises her son as a single mom with no regrets.

What are your thoughts? Is it first comes marriage or can it be first comes baby?

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