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Health Indicator Report of Maternal Marital Status

Nonmarital births are at higher risk of having adverse birth outcomes such as low birthweight, preterm birth, and infant mortality than are children born to married women.[ ^1^] Children born to single mothers typically have more limited social and financial resources.[ ^2^]


The proportion of NJ resident birth records with unknown marital status was less than 1% prior to 1996. Unknown marital status is included in the denominator for 1970-1995, but is excluded beginning with 1996.[[br]]California ceased reporting marital status in 2017, so unknown marital status is excluded from the US data beginning with 2017.

Data Sources

  • Birth Certificate Database, Office of Vital Statistics and Registry, New Jersey Department of Health
  • National Vital Statistics Reports, NCHS, CDC


Marital status was determined by response to the following questions on the birth certificate: *For years 1970-1978 - Legitimate? *For years 1979-1988 - Is mother married? *For years after 1988 - Mother married? (At birth, conception, or any time between)


Number of live births to unmarried mothers


Total number of live births with known marital status

How Are We Doing?

The percentage of births to unmarried mothers had been steadily increasing for several decades but peaked around 2012 and has been declining since then. The rates among Blacks and Hispanics are more than triple the rate among Whites, and the White rate is about 5 times the rate among Asians. Among those aged 25-34, the proportion of births to unmarried women in 2019 was double the rate in 1990. The share of births to unmarried mothers ranges from 14% in Hunterdon to 63% in Cumberland County.

How Do We Compare With the U.S.?

Since 1985, the proportion of births to unmarried women among New Jersey residents has been below that of the nation as a whole. Currently, the rate is 19% lower in New Jersey than in the U.S. as a whole.
Page Content Updated On 07/13/2021, Published on 07/13/2021
The information provided above is from the Department of Health's NJSHAD web site ( The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: " Retrieved Wed, 22 March 2023 1:39:19 from Department of Health, New Jersey State Health Assessment Data Web site: ".

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