Societal attitudes about fertility, contraception, abortion, and marriage driven by the "sexual revolution" made it acceptable and legal to use abortion as a contraceptive, while men evaded the responsibility of marrying the women they've impregnated.
More than half of non-marital births are of couples who live in a cohabiting relationship. The shame of producing offspring out of wedlock disappeared when churches started celebrating pregnant teens on Mother's Day and the federal government became the Daddy and gave generous welfare and medical care to single mothers. According to Solomon, "Women ages 20-24 currently have the largest share of non-marital births." (CRS R43667, July 30, 2014)
Solomon-Fears said, "The entry of more and more women into the paid labor force also made childbearing outside of marriage more economically feasible." The belief that "parents should stay in unhappy marriage for the sake of the children" began to disappear after the 1960s.
Divorce became acceptable as adults centered on their happiness as opposed to the health and happiness of their children. "Marriage is now more likely to be viewed through a framework of adult fulfillment rather than through a framework of child well-being." (Kathryn Edin and Maria Kefalas, "Promises I Can Keep: Why Poor Women Put Motherhood Before Marriage," University of California Press, 2005, p. 136)
ShareThe typical age for first marriage in the U.S. is 27 for women and 29 for men. Even though cohabiting relationships are less stable than marriage, lasting two years as opposed to 8 years for marriage, "cohabitation has now become a common method of family formation." (Read more.)