How many children have parents who aren't married?

Leslie Ford-- The Daily Signal 

It’s not normal these days for a teen to live with their married mom and dad.

Fifty-four percent of U.S. teens 15-to-17-years-old do not live in a home with their married mother and father, according to the Fifth Annual Index of Family Belonging and Rejection released this month by the Family Research Council. Over half of American teens are about to enter adulthood without the tangible benefits of intact family life.

What are the advantages of growing up with a married mother and father? Children raised by their married parents have substantially better life outcomes compared with similar children raised in single-parent homes. The benefits are positive and measurable: higher education attainment levels, better emotional health and greater self-esteem. They even have higher regard for marriage.

Perhaps most importantly, teens from intact homes have a better chance of avoiding the pitfalls of high-risk behaviors. Boys who grow up without a father in the home are more likely to engage in delinquent behavior as teens. Girls without a father in the home are seven to eight times more likely to experience a teenage pregnancy.

Marriage also influences the economic well-being of the family. Marriage decreases the chance of childhood poverty by 82 percent. It’s not simply the combination of two incomes—research shows that married families earn moreand save more.

Although there is ample evidence that married mothers and fathers play an irreplaceable role in the lives of their children, the number of children born outside marriage has been steadily rising since the 1950s. Today, over 40 percent of children are born outside of marriage. Why does family life in America continue to slip away?

Fifty years ago, the 1965 report by future Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan drew attention to the proportion of low-income black children born outside marriage—which was then 25 percent.

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