The demography of American motherhood looks a lot different than it did roughly 20 years ago. From 1990 to 2008 the proportion of new mothers ages 35 or older rose to 14% from 9%; the nonwhite share rose to 47% from 35%; the unmarried share rose to 41% from 28%; and mothers with some college education rose to 54% from 41%. But these rising motherhood traits hardly describe a typical modern mom. In fact, less than 1% of mothers of newborns are unmarried, nonwhite women who are ages 35 and older and have at least some college education according to a Pew Research Center analysis of 2006 statistics. A combination of any three of these traits (older, unmarried and educated, for example) still accounts for just a few percent of new mothers. In fact, only by combining just two of the traits can double-digit shares be achieved. While there is no typical mother who embodies all four “rising” demographic traits, in some cases there is a typical mother based on age, marital status, race or ethnicity and education. For example, 40% of births in 2006 were to white, married women; no other group accounts for even half that share. Read More

Russell Heimlich  is a former web developer at Pew Research Center.