Study: Unwed Mothers 'Tend to Not Marry Well'

The chimney of the Southampton Presbyterian Church, upper right, seen Thursday, Aug. 18, 2005, in St. Louis, is the proposed site for a new cell phone antenna. T-Mobile plans to construct the tower and pay the church rent, but has run into stiff opposition from the church's neighbors. AP photo/Tom Gannam

Women who have children out of wedlock are about 30 percent less likely to get married than childless single women, according to a new study.

When unwed mothers do marry, they are more likely to land husbands who are significantly older and less educated than those of women who don't have children.

"It's more difficult for unwed mothers to get married, and if they do, they tend to not marry well," said Zhenchao Qian, associate professor of sociology at Ohio State University.

More than a third of female-headed families with children live in poverty compared to only 6 percent of married couples with children, Qian said. Marriage may not help unwed mothers economically, however, because their partners tend to lack education and are less likely to have opportunities for good-paying jobs.

The study drew from data collected in the Current Population Survey between 1980 and 1995. The sample included 102,722 women aged 18 to 34.

Their results are detailed in the current issue of the journal Social Forces.

Live Science Staff
For the science geek in everyone, Live Science offers a fascinating window into the natural and technological world, delivering comprehensive and compelling news and analysis on everything from dinosaur discoveries, archaeological finds and amazing animals to health, innovation and wearable technology. We aim to empower and inspire our readers with the tools needed to understand the world and appreciate its everyday awe.