Provides an overview of out-of-wedlock births in the United States from a comparative and historical perspective.
Abrahamson focuses on the dramatic increase in out-of-wedlock births that occurred in the United States during the last half of the 20th century. He provides the most current demographic data, and summarizes the findings in a nontechnical manner made more meaningful by references to the lives of actual people.
He also includes detailed case studies of how out-of-wedlock births increased in rural Essex, England around 1600, in Madrid, Spain around 1800, and in Jamaica in the mid-20th century. A theoretical overview summarizes the patterns exhibited in the case studies and in the contemporary United States. He concludes with an examination of the role of welfare in the United States and the prospects for current welfare reform efforts to succeed in decreasing out-of-wedlock births. This survey will be of interest to scholars, students of sociology, anthropology, and social work, and readers interested in current social issues.