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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 mothers grew substantially between 1955 and 2017.
* Number of births per 1,000 females ages 15–19.

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  • In 1955, 14.2% of all births to females ages 15-19 were to unmarried women. By 2017, this proportion increased to 89.2%.
  • 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 2017, of the 19 births per 1,000 females ages 15-19, 2 were to married women and 17 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 (66.3% vs. 14.2%). This gap narrowed by 2017, such that younger mothers were about 1.1 times as likely to be unmarried as older teen mothers (99.4% vs. 89.2%).
  • Overall, births to unmarried women ages 15-17 totaled 46,841 in 2017.

Internet citation: OJJDP Statistical Briefing Book. Online. Available: https://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/population/qa01303.asp?qaDate=2017. Released on June 24, 2019.

Data Source: National Center for Health Statistics' Annual Births: Final Data for the years 1999-2016 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 2016. National Vital Statistics Report, Vol. 67, No. 1. [PDF]. Hyattsville, Maryland: National Center for Health Statistics, 2018.


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