Speed Reads

baby talk

More U.S. babies are being born to unmarried, cohabiting couples

A new report shows that more couples living together are forgoing marriage but starting families together.

The number of children being born to these "cohabiting unions" jumped to 58 percent of all non-marital births in 2006-2010, up from 41 percent in 2002, according to a new report from the National Center for Health Statistics. Half of those births were planned. "What this shows is that the nature of non-marital childbearing is changing," lead researcher Sally Curtin told NBC News.

The data shows that in 2013, there were 1.6 million births to unmarried women in the United States, 7 percent lower than the peak number of 1.7 million births in 2008. About four in 10 U.S. births each year from 2007 to 2013 were to unmarried women.

Anne-Marie Rinaldi spoke to NBC News about her situation; she has been with her high school sweetheart for 16 years, and they recently had a daughter together. While the pregnancy was unplanned, the couple is thrilled with their new addition, and do want to get married eventually. "We love each other, and we are OK financially, but we want to save more money," she said. "I guess in some people's minds we did this backwards, but it works for us."

There was also a large drop in non-marital birth rates among teenagers between 2007 and 2012; the rate for 15- to 17-year-olds dropped 30 percent to 14 per 1,000, and for 18- to 19-year-olds it dropped 26 percent to 46 per 1,000. "That's really a substantial decline," says Elizabeth Wildsmith, a senior research scientist at the nonprofit Child Trend, "and it speaks to the success of various programs."