4 facts about the black American unmarried birth rate of 72 percent.

  1. The peak hit early on (prior to the crack wars of the late 1980s and early 1990s) and stabilized.
  2. There was a collapse in actual births.
  3. The percentage of illegitimate births stayed the same even as the maternal demographics became approximately 33% foreign-born.
  4. Higher abortion rates aren’t driving the decline in live births.  Women, even black women are having fewer abortions concurrent with fewer live births.  And the abortion rate was mostly decreasing even as there was a small overall increase in the illegitimacy rate.

So all the narratives are misleading, from the idea that the rate’s been steadily increasing over time to the one that black women are popping out zilions of illegitimate babies for the welfare cash.

The data is from the CDC’s assorted pdfs of births, abortions, illegitimacy rates and immigrant status of mother.

Black women are the canary in the coal mine on this very interesting side effect of the sexual revolution.  Their birth rates crashed with easy access to contraceptives and abortions and never really recovered even with massive immigrant replacement.  Roughly the same absolute number of black babies are being born as was the case FIFTY YEARS AGO.  Think about that one!

Related to this, there was a recent report with some quotes from the Guttmacher Institute that the overall illegitimacy rate is dropping from its peak of 41% of births and that women were having fewer abortions and also reporting fewer sex partners.

The high black illegitimacy rate is awful, but it’s been within a narrow range for several decades now, and isn’t a recent phenomenon.  Thus, any serious debates about it should really consider the actual data pattern rather than the inaccurate narratives about the data pattern.



2 thoughts on “4 facts about the black American unmarried birth rate of 72 percent.

  1. Another thing that is overlooked when this issue is addressed is that the rate of black women having children out of wedlock is lower than it has ever been since the US began keeping track, and continues to decline as it began to in the 90s. The percentage of black children being born out of wedlock and the percentage of black women having children out of wedlock are numbers that are more often than not mistakenly conflated. A large part of what we are seeing is that married black women used to have more children than average and now have fewer and fewer (from 5-8 children being the norm to 2 or so nowadays) in addition to less black women getting married today than before.

    I think the distinction is important because it’s common to hear, “Well we need to address what’s going on with black women” when the reality is that outcomes for black women on the whole are and have been continually improving, but we see steadily increasing class divisions with very dire implications for the black underclass. For many, it’s easy to make it an ethnic/racial issue rather than a class issue, because class issues suggest that a large part of the problem relates to the American economy and political structure more generally rather than the moral deficiencies of a certain group of people.


  2. Yes, Denise. I have often made that point myself. That this is an issue of class more than race.


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