Flagstaff unmarried young women have the highest birth rate in the nation

May 01, 2013

The number of unmarried women having children continues to increase. The U.S. Census Bureau released numbers today showing the Flagstaff area has the highest birth rate in the nation for unmarried women in their early twenties.

U.S. Census survey As women get older, they are less likely to give birth unmarried. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Census Bureau).

The survey said 62 percent of women nationally, aged 20 to 24, who gave birth in 2011 were unmarried. Statistics show that in 2011 nearly 36 percent of babies in this country were born to unmarried women. Arizona’s rate was even higher, at 39.5 percent.

Flagstaff had the highest percentage in the country, with 75 percent of the women in that age group being unmarried when they gave birth.

150 miles to the west, the Lake Havasu-Kingman area has one of the lowest rates in the country, with only 13 percent of the women giving birth without being married.

The younger the mother, the more likely she was not to be married.  Mary Ellen Cunningham is with Arizona’s Department of Health Services. She says those teenaged moms are facing an uphill climb.

 "There’s so many stresses when you’re young. There’s the financial stresses, the social stresses," Cunnigham said. "There’s so many things. They're more likely to be poor and not have as many options based on their education or lack of education that they have."

 Cunningham said the state has reduced the number of teen pregnancies over the last several years.

Overall, 36 percent of the women who had children in the survey year were unwed.  The survey also showed the correlation between education and birth rates.

Fifty-seven percent of the unmarried mothers had less than a high school diploma while only 9 percent of mothers with a bachelor's degree or higher were not married.

The Census Bureau says the number of non-marital birth has been climbing steadily since the 1940s and has risen markedly in recent years.