A new study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University has found that more women between the ages of 32 and 38 welcomed their first child before marriage in 2017 to 2018 compared to how many who did so in 1996, according to South West News Service (SWNS).
The women were distinguished by their education level, and while each group saw a rise in the number of unmarried women giving birth for the first time in their mid-to-late-30s, college-educated women saw significant growth.
Among unmarried women who had an associate of arts degree sometime between 2017 and 2018, half reportedly gave birth to their first child, according to Johns Hopkins. That number is nearly three times as many as the private research university recorded in 1996, which was at 17.8% at the time.
For women who earned a bachelor’s degree or higher between 2017 and 2018, nearly a quarter (24.5%) between the ages of 32 and 38 had their first child while unmarried. That number is roughly six times as many as Johns Hopkins recorded for the same demographic in 1996.
“The numbers are higher than a generation ago for both economic and cultural reasons,” Andrew Cherlin, the Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Johns Hopkins University, told FOX News.
He went on, “College graduates today are carrying more debt, which discourages them from marrying. And it’s much more acceptable to have a baby in a cohabiting relationship, or even alone, than in the past.”
Researchers who worked on the study analyzed figures from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health and the National Survey of Family Growth to determine the 21-to-22-year birthing shift.
The study also found that the number of women who gave birth to their first child before marriage rose among those who have not earned a college degree.
More than three times as many unmarried high school graduates (61.8%) welcomed their first child between the ages of 32 and 38 in 2017 to 2018 than the number of women who were recorded to have done so in 1996, which was at 19.4% at the time.
Unmarried women who earned a GED or had no degree at all also saw their numbers nearly doubled within two decades, according to Johns Hopkins findings.
More than three-quarters of single GED recipients (76%) between the ages of 32 and 38 gave birth to their first child in 2017 to 2018 compared to the number of women who reportedly did so in 1996 (37.2%).
The same was true for single women between the ages of 32 and 38 who had no degree. According to John Hopkins, 86.5% of women in this demographic gave birth to their first child in 2017 to 2018 compared to the 48.2% who were recorded to have done so in 1996.