Thanks to Justin Stoler for pointing me to a piece that aired on NPR a couple of days ago discussing the trend among younger women in the U.S. to have kids without necessarily thinking about marriage. Sadly, of course, this is not a new story. Indeed, the NPR report draws largely from a story in the NY Times from February 2012, and which I commented on at the time. My view then, as now, is that if unmarried women could really raise their children as successfully as married women, then this would not be an issue. The evidence suggests otherwise, however. The odds are stacked against you if your parents chose not to marry and you are raised solely by your mother. Of course, you may succeed in the face of those odds, but it's going to be harder. This was exactly the message of Isabel Sawhill's book, Generation Unbound, which I commented on a few days ago. Indeed, when I saw the NPR article, I just assumed that it was building on Sawhill's book, yet there was no mention of it.
I also thought of Sawhill's book when my wife and I were watching the British cop show Scott & Bailey, in which the leads are female detectives working in Manchester, UK. This was an older episode (season 2, episode 7) in which they investigate the murder of a local teenage gang member who, as it turns out, has twice gotten a young girl pregnant. She was the one who murdered him, as it turns out, but the cops comment on the show that using condoms would have avoided a lot of disaster. That's an extreme case, to be sure, but it gets at Sawhill's message, except that she believes in the IUD, since it is less prone to error.