Out-of-Wedlock Births Rise Worldwide

Out-of-wedlock childbirths have become more common worldwide since the 1960s, but with wide variations among and within countries. Inreasing economic independence and education combined with modern birth control methods have given women more control over family planning. In about 25 countries, including China, India and much of Africa, the proportion of such births is typically around 1 percent, explains Joseph Chamie, a demographer and a former director of the United Nations Population Division. In another 25 countries, mostly in Latin America, more than 60 percent of births are out-of-wedlock, a big jump from just 50 years ago. The rates of such births often coincide with public responses which range from severe punishments and stigmatization of children to celebrations and government assistance. In most countries, marriage still provides extra economic protection for parents and children, and governments struggle on how to respond to the trends. “Marriage has become less necessary for women’s financial survival, social interaction and personal wellbeing, and government policies have been slow to keep pace,” Chamie notes. “Like it or not, out-of-wedlock births are in transition worldwide and create challenges for many societies.” – YaleGlobal

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