Today, one third of all American babies are born to unmarried mothers—a startling statistic that has prompted national concern about the consequences for women, children, and society. Indeed, the debate about welfare and the overhaul of the federal welfare program for single mothers was partially motivated by the desire to reduce out of wedlock births. Although the proportion of births to unwed mothers has stopped climbing for the first time since the 1960s, it has not decreased, and recent trends are too complex to attribute solely to policy interventions. What are these trends and how do they differ across groups? Are they peculiar to the United States, or rooted in more widespread social forces? Do children of unmarried mothers face greater life challenges, and if so what can be done to help them? Out of Wedlock investigates these questions, marshalling sociologists, demographers, and economists to review the state of current research and to provide both empirical information and critical analyses. The conflicting data on nonmarital fertility give rise to a host of vexing theoretical, methodological, and empirical issues, some of which researchers are only beginning to address. Out of Wedlock breaks important new ground, bringing clarity to the data and examining policies that may benefit these particularly vulnerable children.
"One in five American children lives in a household with income below the poverty line -- $22,050 for a family of four. Not only are the daily lives of poor children difficult, but experts worry that many will suffer lifelong effects from early deprivation. Concern about child poverty has grown especially strong amid a push in Congress for sweeping budget cuts, including reductions in spending on food stamps and other anti-poverty programs. As child poverty continues to rise amid the nation's persistent economic woes and high unemployment, a long-simmering debate over the problem's root causes is heating up. Liberals argue that fewer children would fall into poverty if the government safety net were stronger and more jobs were available for struggling parents. Conservatives, on the other hand, say child poverty largely stems from parental behavior -- particularly a growing tendency to have children out of wedlock."--P. .
As is the case in Western industrialized countries, Japan is seeing a rise in the number of unmarried couples, later marriages, and divorces. What sets Japan apart, however, is that the percentage of children born out of wedlock has hardly changed in the past fifty years. This book provides the first systematic study of single motherhood in contemporary Japan. Seeking to answer why illegitimate births in Japan remain such a rarity, Hertog spent over three years interviewing single mothers, academics, social workers, activists, and policymakers about the beliefs, values, and choices that unmarried Japanese mothers have. Pairing her findings with extensive research, she considers the economic and legal disadvantages these women face, as well as the cultural context that underscores family change and social inequality in Japan. This is the only scholarly account that offers sufficient detail to allow for extensive comparisons with unmarried mothers in the West.
The U.S. has experienced a dramatic increase in births to unmarried women in recent decades—from 4% of births in 1950, with most of the babies then adopted, to more than 30% today. Melissa Ludtke's book is the only in-depth analysis of this radical change in family formation to compare and contrast the lives of these mothers of varying ages and economic circumstances.
In classrooms and in living rooms, in research institutions and on Capitol Hill, teenage pregnancy is one of the most controversial public issues of our day. Yet after all the investigation and government effort, what is really known about the problem of adolescent pregnancy and how to deal with it? And what is the role of the social scientist and historian in a public issue of this kind? In this study, Maris Vinovskis--a prominent demographic historian and a participant in both Carter's and Reagan's Presidential initiatives on teenage pregnancy--sets these questions within a historical framework and discusses a host of current issues and policy considerations. Vinovskis begins by examining adolescent sexuality and childbearing in early America and evaluating whether there has in fact been an "epidemic" of adolescent pregnancy in American history. In the following chapters, he addresses the rise of adolescent pregnancy as a national issue and assesses the government's response to it, both in Congress and the Presidency. Bringing his unique qualifications as a historian and a policy planner to his study, Vinovskis offers readers a provocative new context for understanding a pressing public issue of the 1980s.