Fewer middle-class women follow what one study calls the "success sequence" of education, work, marriage and childbearing. They may get married, but only later, and not have children. Increasingly, they are having children, but postponing the wedding.
The recession's financial stresses did nothing to slow the trend. If anything, the retreat from marriage is spreading from the least affluent Americans "into the solid middle of the middle class," according to the 2010 study, "When Marriage Disappears," by the National Marriage Project, at the University of Virginia.
Becca Bijoch, 25, feels no societal pressure to marry. "I think it's definitely different than it's ever been before, probably even in the past 10 years," said Bijoch, who works for a public relations firm in Minneapolis.
"Not feeling that pressure gives me the opportunity to focus on my career and have more great life experiences I might not be able to have if I was in a serious relationship."
...In Minnesota, almost one in three new mothers is unmarried, says the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), up from about one in four 10 years ago. Fewer than one in five are teenagers, continuing the decline in teen births. More than 42 percent are at least 25 years old.
What's going on with marriage here reflects national trends, which show an even stronger shift, with four in 10 births to unmarried women, more than double the rate in 1970, according to the NCHS. Of these births, 60 percent are to women in their 20s.