The majority of births to Hawaii women younger than 30 are taking place outside of marriage for the first time, according to a Washington-based nonprofit research group that tracks national birth data.

Fifty-one percent of all births to Hawaii women under 30 occurred outside of marriage in 2009, the most recent year for which data is available, according to Child Trends.

“It is important to keep in mind that these percentages are a bit higher than they would be for all women,
since younger women have more nonmarital births than women in their 30s and 40s,” Child Trends researcher Elizabeth Wildsmith said in an email.

The state data mirrors a national trend for young mothers. As The New York Times reported on Friday, 53 percent of the children born to women under 30 in 2009 were born outside of marriage.

Since 1990, the number of Hawaii women aged 30-and-younger who gave birth and weren’t married jumped 19 percentage points. In 1990, the percentage was 32 percent. In 2000, the figure had jumped to 45 percent.

Both nationally and in Hawaii, the share of babies born to unmarried women has been climbing in recent years. When looking at women of all ages, the majority of mothers are still married when they give birth. But the growing number of young mothers who aren’t married when they give birth is telling.

The trend may suggest how attitudes toward marriage have changed — the stigma against unmarried parents has ebbed in recent years. But the numbers may also illuminate the ways in which people are coping with economic strife. Staying unmarried is one way to keep a family’s official household income lower, which could make the difference between eligibility for benefits like food stamps, the newspaper reported.

It wasn’t clear from the information Child Trends provided how many of the unmarried moms had partners.

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