The Number of Single Moms in America Is at a Record Low. Here’s Why

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By Mahita Gajanan

A rise in unmarried parents living together has led to a decline of single motherhood in the U.S., according to a new report.

A quarter of parents living together with their children are unmarried, an uptick from 50 years ago when only 7% of parents did so, according to the Pew Research Center, which analyzed data from the Census Bureau. As more unmarried parents cohabit, the number of mothers raising their children alone has fallen.

The decline of single motherhood is a direct result of more unmarried parents deciding to live together, according to the report. Pew says 35% of unmarried parents live with a partner.

According to Pew, in 1968, 88% of unmarried parents were single mothers. The number has steadily declined over the years — in 1997, 68% were single mothers and by 2017, solo mothers made up 53% of unmarried parents.

The rate of unmarried parents who are single fathers has stayed the same at 12%. As more unmarried parents move in together, the share of unmarried fathers has gone to 29% from 12%.

The likelihood of children in the U.S. growing up with an unmarried parent is expected to become much higher, as more families become “fluid,” Pew says. Although unmarried parenthood has grown to be quite common, a large number of Americans disapprove of its rise. According to a 2015 Pew survey, two-thirds of adults said single mothers were “bad for society,” and 48% said unmarried parents would have a negative effect as well.

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