Consequences Of Nonmarital Childbearing In Developed Nations
Nonmarital childbearing has implications for women, children, and entire societies across the world. One of the most pervasive consequences of nonmarital childbearing is the altered life trajectories of women and children who experience it. The exact consequences of nonmarital childbearing may vary from one nation to another depending on economic, social, and political conditions, but some general consequences have been documented in research.
Consequences of nonmarital childbearing in the United States. Research in the United States suggests that nonmarital childbearing has several negative consequences for women and their children. Women who experience nonmarital births attain lower levels of education and income, and are more likely to be dependant on governmental support (Driscoll et al. 1999). Further, women who experience nonmarital childbearing are likely to experience poverty. This is often due to the fact that the fathers of their children are unable or unwilling to pay child support (Garfinkel 1993; Garfinkel, McLanahan, and Robins 1994). Experiencing early single parenthood can hinder women from realizing their educational and career goals and may also limit the scope of future mate selection or family structure choices (Miller 1995). Teenagers who experience nonmarital fertility are less likely to complete high school or obtain college education (McLanahan 1995), and are thus more likely to experience poverty in their lives.
Nonmarital childbearing has negative consequences for children. Children of unmarried mothers are more likely to live in poverty. They are also likely to experience other risks such as a higher school dropout rate, a higher possibility of engaging in premarital sex, and experiencing teenage nonmarital pregnancy (Aquilino 1996; Moore, Morrison, and Glei 1995; Wu 1996). Children of unmarried mothers are also more likely to grow up in single parent, typically female-headed, households and to experience instability in living arrangements (Aquilino 1996; Bumpass and Lu 2000).
Nonmarital childbearing can have negative behavioral and cognitive outcomes for children, such as: delinquent behaviors, lower scores on standardized tests, and lower school grades (McLanahan 1995). Children of unmarried mothers may receive lower levels of parental supervision and involvement (McLanahan and Sandefur 1994). Children who grow up in neighborhoods with a high prevalence of single parent families might also consider nonmarital fertility to be a viable option in the future, and are more likely to engage in it themselves (McLanahan 1995). Children of young, unmarried teenage mothers also tend to experience a lower quality of home environment. Many of the negative consequences of nonmarital childbearing are partially due to the poverty that often accompanies nonmarital fertility (McLanahan 1995).
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