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Juvenile Population Characteristics
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Juvenile Population Characteristics
Teen Mothers
Q: What proportion of teen mothers are unmarried and how has it changed in recent years?
A: The proportion of births to unmarried teen mothers grew substantially between 1955 and 2012.
Percent of births to unmarried teen mothers, 1955-2012

Birth rate ages 15-19 and Percent of births to unmarried teen mothers ages 15-19

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  • In 1955, 14% of all births to females ages 15–19 were to unmarried women. By 2012, this proportion had increased to 89%.
  • In 1955, of the 90 births per 1,000 females ages 15–19, 77 were to married women and 13 were to unmarried women. In 2012, of the 29 births per 1,000 females ages 15–19, 3 were to married women and 26 were to unmarried women.
  • Since 1955, mothers under age 15 were more likely to be unmarried than their counterparts ages 15–19. However, the gap has declined in recent years. In 1955, for example, the proportion of mothers under age 15 who were unmarried was more than 4 times that of unmarried mothers ages 15–19 (66% vs. 14%). This gap narrowed by 2012, such that younger mothers were about 1.1 times as likely to be unmarried as older teen moms (99% vs. 89%).
  • Overall, births to unmarried women ages 15–17 totaled 82,464 in 2012.
  • Although the majority of unmarried teen mothers were white, black teens were more likely than others to be unmarried mothers.

Internet citation: OJJDP Statistical Briefing Book. Online. Available: http://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/population/qa01303.asp?qaDate=2012. Released on August 01, 2014.

Data Source: National Center for Health Statistics' Annual Births: Final Data for the years 1999-2009 and Nonmarital childbearing in the United States, 1940-1999. Available from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/births.htm

Data Source: Martin, J.A., Hamilton, B.E., et al. Births: Final Data for 2012. National Vital Statistics Report, Vol. 62, No. 09. [PDF]. Hyattsville, Maryland: National Center for Health Statistics, 2013.


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