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CDC: 40.5% of U.S. Babies Born in 2020 Had Unmarried Mothers; 42.0% Born on Medicaid


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last week that there were 3,613,647 births registered in the United States in 2020 and that 1,464,121 of these—or 40.5 percent–were to unmarried mothers.

“The percentage of all births to unmarried women was 40.5% in 2020,”  said the CDC’s “Births: Final Data for 2020” report.

The CDC also reported that 42.0% percent of births in the United States in 2020 were covered by government-funded Medicaid.

Among the 50 states, according to the report’s Supplemental Table I-7, Mississippi had the highest percentage of babies born to unmarried mothers (55.8 percent).

It was followed by Louisiana (54.5 percent); New Mexico (53.2 percent); Nevada (48.8 percent); Alabama (48.5 percent); Delaware (48.1 percent); Florida (47.2 percent); Arkansas (46.8 percent); West Virginia (46.8 percent); and South Carolina (46.6 percent).

Utah had the lowest percentage of babies born in 2020 to unmarried mothers (19.3 percent). Colorado had the second lowest percentage (23.2 percent), followed by Idaho (27.7 percent); Washington (31.6 percent); New Hampshire (32.1 percent); Minnesota (32.6 percent); North Dakota (32.8 percent); Massachusetts (33.0 percent); Nebraska (33.4 percent); and New Jersey and Montana (both at 33.9 percent).



“The percentage of all births to unmarried women was 40.5 percent in 2020, up 1% from 2019 (40.0 percent),” the CDC said in the report published by its National Center for Health Statistics division. “The percentage of all births to unmarried women peaked in 2009 at 41.0 percent.”

The CDC has published tables listing the annual number of births and the percentage of babies born to unmarried mothers going back to 1940.

That year, according to the CDC, only 3.8 percent of the babies born in the United States were born to unmarried mothers.

The percentage first topped 4 percent in 1945, when it hit 4.3 percent. It then hit 5.0 percent in 1958 and climbed to 6.3 percent in 1963.

In the mid-1960s it started to spike. In 1965, it hit 7.7 percent. In 1966, it hit 8.4 percent. In 1967, it hit 9.0 percent. Then, in 1969, it hit 10.0 percent for the first time.

In 1983, it topped 20 percent for the first time, hitting 20.3 percent. In 1992, it topped 30 percent for the first time, hitting 30.1 percent. In 2008, it topped 40 percent for the first time, hitting 40.6 percent.

In the twelve years on record since 2008 (2009-2020), it has only dropped below 40 percent in three years. In 2016 and 2017, it was 39.8 percent. Then in 2018, it dropped to 39.6 percent—before climbing back to 40.0 percent in 2019 and 40.5 percent in 2020.

“Medicaid was the source of payments for 42.0 percent of all 2020 births,” said the CDC report.

That, the CDC report noted was down from 42.1 percent in 2019.

“The principle source of payment for the delivery of most births in 2020 continued to be either private insurance or Medicaid,” said the report, “however, the percentage of births covered by private insurance increased from 2019 (from 50.2% to 50.6%), and the percentage of births covered by Medicaid declined (from 42.1% to 42.0%).”

“Authorized by Title XIX of the Social Security Act, Medicaid was signed into law in 1965 alongside Medicare,” says the website. “All states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories have Medicaid programs designed to provide health coverage for low-income people. Although the Federal government establishes certain parameters for all states to follow, each state administers their Medicaid program differently, resulting in variations in Medicaid coverage across the country.”

Authored by Terence P. Jeffrey via

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