6 Things You Should Know About Black Marriage


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March 27 is Black Marriage Day. But what's race got to do with it?

3. Black couples are more likely to get divorced. Among black men and women ages 15 and up, almost half (47 percent) have never been married, 12 percent are divorced and five percent are separated. Those last two numbers don't look that high on their own, but compared to divorce rates among other racial groups, they are: only five percent of Asians, 8 percent of Hispanics and 11 percent of white men and women ages 15 and up are divorced.

4. Most black children are born out of wedlock. In 2008, almost three-quarters (72 percent) of black children were born to unwed mothers. In the same year the rate was 17 percent of Asian, 29 percent of white and 53 percent of Hispanic children.


5. Black children are more likely to grow up in a single-parent household. Nearly 48 percent of black kids live with a singleton: a third live with an unmarried woman, and 15 percent live with an unmarried man. The number appears to climb as children get older—55 percent of black teens ages 15 to 19 live in a household headed by a single woman; 8 percent live with a single man.

6. Single mothers struggle. Thirty-six percent of black families led by single women live below the poverty level, compared to seven percent of black married-couple households. (For whatever reason, there is no data on poverty among families head by single black men.)

There's no doubt that there are strong single-parent families out there. It's not always better to be married, either—staying in an abusive or unhappy relationship "for the kids" does more harm than good. But these numbers do indicate a decline in marriage, coupled with a steady desire and decision to have children. I Knocked Myself Up: Pregnancy On My Own

Many people have tried to explain the dearth of black marriages by examining men and women's differing values, the expense of marriage, and incarceration rates. Some blame the celebration of pimps and players, which might make black men devalue monogamy and black women not expect it. Some have even called marriage a white institution.