A new study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that nearly one in four first-born babies, or 22 percent, are born to unmarried couples living together. The numbers jumped dramatically from 12 percent in 2002.
"More people are cohabitating and more people cohabitating are likely to have children," Gladys Martinez, lead author of the study, told ABCNews.com. "We were surprised by the numbers because it was quite a jump from such a short time, just 10 years ago."
The findings were based on data from more than 23,000 face-to-face interviews with American men and women ages 15 to 44. Men and women with lower education levels were more likely to have more children than people who attended college. Hispanic women were more likely to give birth at an earlier age and have more children than other races, as well.
Experts say a cultural acceptance of having children out-of-wedlock, along with the economic downturn, contribute to the dramatic jump in children born to unmarried couples who live together.