By Charles Murray
The New York Times has gotten around to reporting something that has been known for a couple of months, that in 2007 the U.S. illegitimacy ratio (the proportion of live births that occur to unmarried women) reached the truly remarkable, once unthinkable, figure of 40 percent.
The news behind the news here, something the Times doesn’t mention, is that illegitimacy varies enormously by socioeconomic class. There’s now an exceptionally clean data base for examining this: The National Longitudinal Survey of Youth that followed (among others) women born from 1957 to 1964 through their entire childbearing years. We now know with no statistical complications the profile of their children. Since so much of the commentary about American out-of-wedlock births gets tangled up in issues of race and ethnicity, let’s take them out of the equation and limit the numbers to whites of European origin.