WASHINGTON — More than half of all black babies born in the United States arrive to out-of-wedlock mothers, according to a new Census Bureau study that found unmarried women accounted for nearly 18% of all births.
The rate of births to unmarried women has been rising in recent years, from 14% nationally in 1980, despite the increased availability of birth control products and abortion.
No breakdown by race was done in the 1980 survey.
Out-of-wedlock births were most common in the 18-24 age group, accounting for nearly three-fourths of babies born to black women in that category, and more than one in five among white women, said the study released Wednesday.
Study Lasted One Year
The bureau studied births in the 12 months ending in June, 1985. Among its findings:
--Out-of-wedlock births totaled 17.9% for women aged 18 to 44, including 11.7% for whites and 54.9% for blacks.
--In the 18-24 group, out-of-wedlock births were 31.1% overall, 20.2% for white women and 74.5% for blacks.
--Some 48% of new mothers had returned to the labor force within a year, up from 38% in 1980 and 31% in 1976. College graduates were twice as likely to have gone back to work as women who had not completed high school.
The increase in out-of-wedlock births has followed a general lessening of the stigma attached to illegitimate children by society, as well as a change in attitude among young women, said Martha R. Burt of the Urban Institute, a private research organization.