The percentage of unmarried men becoming first-time fathers has gone down over the past few decades, according to a report from the National Center for Health Statistics. But among those unmarried men who do become first-time fathers, more are choosing to live with the mother and child than before, the report said.
During the early 2000s it was reported that 36 percent of first-time fathers under the age of 44 had a child out of wedlock, U.S. health officials said, according to the report.
That was down from the 40 percent of first-time fathers who were unmarried in the 1990s, and the 42 percent who were unmarried in the 1980s, showing a decreasing trend over three decades.
It was also found that 24 percent of fathers in the 2000s had their first births while within a cohabitating union, with only 19 percent who were in the same situation in the 1980s, according to the report.
Head researcher Gladys Martinez reviewed three decades of data from the National Survey of Family Growth to identify trends with fatherhood. The survey information came from interviews with men and women between the ages of 15 and 44.
The results of the study are good news, according to U.S. News & World Report HealthDay, due to research finding that "having a father involved positively with his child benefits the child and the family on a number of outcomes," said Craig Garfield, an associate professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University in Chicago, who was not involved in the research.
"This (benefit) is across the age spectrum. For infants, having an involved father results in improved breast-feeding initiation and duration, toddlers have improved language development and teenagers engage in less delinquent behaviors," Garfield said, according to HealthDay.
The group with the greatest drop in having children out of wedlock was unmarried black men, going from 77 percent in the 1980s to 66 percent in the 2000s. White and Hispanic unmarried men have not had statistically significant changes, according to the report.
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