Twenty Percent of All American Mothers Have Children with Multiple Birth Fathers: Study

Twenty percent of all American mothers, 1 in 5, have had children with multiple birth fathers, according to a study released by the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research.

The study was authored by Cassandra Dorius, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research. She said, “To put it in perspective, this is similar to the number of American adults with a college degree. It’s pervasive.”

Dorius’ study was presented Friday at the annual meeting of the Population Association of America. She examined data from nearly 4,000 U.S. women who had been interviewed more than 20 times over a 27-year period. The above results include in its numbers women with only one child. Quite obviously, the numbers would be higher for those who have two or more children, to make up for the fact that women with only one child cannot have multiple birth fathers.

That obviousness is borne out in the statistics. The analysis showed that 28 percent of the women with two or more children had children by different fathers. The rate was highest among African-American mothers (59 percent), then by Hispanic mothers (35 percent) and finally white mothers (22 percent). The new data was taken from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth.

It is not just single parenthood that affects the numbers. It is frequently associated with marriage and divorce, as well. Forty-three percent of the women with kids with multiple birth fathers were married when their first child was born. Dorius added that she was surprised to find that women having children with different fathers is quite common at all levels of income and education.

In a press release issued by the University of Michigan, Dorius said:

"We tend to think of women with multiple partner fertility as being only poor single women with little education and money, but in fact at some point, most were married, and working, and going to school, and doing all the things you're supposed to do to live the American dream."

She added that the pressures of living with children with multiple birth fathers adds stress, simply because of the amount of juggling and coordination involved with dealing with the fathers, not just in time management, but also in child support.

“Everyday decisions are more complex and family rules are more ambiguous. Families need to figure out who lives with whom and when, who pays for things like clothing, who is responsible for child support.”

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