Pin It
Submit to Reddit

The rise of the baby daddies 

The problem with Hollywood's bastard baby boom

Actress Angelina Jolie and her megastar partner Brad Pitt spend a lot of time flying around the globe to draw attention to kids living in poverty -- and in the process, to themselves. The idea, they've said, is to provide an example by adopting impoverished children.

That's commendable, but it's the other example they're providing that's the problem. Given their antipoverty crusade, the fact Jolie is reportedly pregnant again is the height of irony.

That's because the second leading cause of poverty in America is out-of-wedlock birth. It's also a top cause in many poor countries around the globe.

Yet you can't open People magazine without seeing the latest photos of the couple's adorable daughter Shiloh plastered prominently. The rest of Hollywood must have watched in envy at what has to be hundreds of millions of dollars of free publicity the couple has gotten from having their daughter.

This trend didn't start with Pitt and Jolie, but the two arguably did more to fuel it than anyone before them. Adorable babies are all the rage in Hollywood now. Celebrities who have them, married or not, are guaranteed a spot in the tabloids virtually every week. Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck's daughter Violet's weekly exploits get more ink than the state of her parents careers. Ditto for Suri Cruise. That has left Hollywood actors who aren't married scrambling to keep up.

Nicole Richie would have all but faded from the tabloids by now if she hadn't gotten knocked up by boyfriend Joel Madden and given birth in January. Before the birth, Richie's pregnancy earned the couple an interview with Good Morning America's Diane Sawyer. Comedian Sacha Baron Cohen and his B-list actress fiancée Isla Fisher only rarely made the celebrity-coverage cut until just before she gave birth to Olive in October. Now they are regular tabloid fixtures.

It appears Halle Berry, Jessica Alba, Matthew McConaughey, Salma Hayek, Ethan Hawke and many other Hollywood unmarrieds are frantically trying to catch up by getting knocked up. Paris Hilton, not to be outdone, has promised the world a child sometime in the next year. The result is a bastard baby boom that shows no signs of letting up. I understand that accidents happen, but this many grown adults can't suddenly be pregnant or have fathered children by slip-up.

In Hollywood, the baby-daddy economic equation makes sense. The millions of dollars of free publicity you get more than justifies the cost of the baby, which these people are in an excellent position to afford anyway. And any time it cramps their lifestyle, they can simply hand the kid over to a nanny.

The whole out-of-wedlock birth thing is much tougher for average American women, who are following Hollywood's example in droves. A study by the National Center for Health Statistics found that out-of-wedlock births reached a record high in 2006, with a staggering 39 percent of children now born outside of marriage. That's an 8 percent rise over the year before, and a 20 percent rise in bastard bearing since 2002, when the dramatic upswing in nonmarital births began.

But here's the ironic part. Teenage girls aren't driving this trend, although the number of teen births rose for the first time in 14 years last year. The same study found that the biggest jump in unwed births -- 10 percent between 2005 and 2006 -- were to women ages 25-29. In other words, these births are to women who should know better, women who can't possibly all be having "accidents" many of them had thus far managed to avoid.

Who are the women giving birth to out-of-wedlock babies? Not who you'd think. According to Princeton University's Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, their median age at childbirth is 22. Nearly three quarters of them are in relatively stable romantic relationships with the father at the time of the child's birth. The fathers are described by the study to be "marriageable," with few having drug-, alcohol- or physical-abuse problems. They also have higher incomes than the mothers, with median annual earnings of about $17,500 a year.

If these women remain single, 55 percent will be poor, according to data from the study. But if they married their baby's daddy or lived with him until the child is grown, the poverty rate falls to less than 17 percent. The reason why is simple -- two sets of rent, water, electric and other bills would cripple any household. But that's what those who deliberately choose single parenthood are signing up for.

The numbers are even more dramatic when you look at the two-thirds of poor children who live in single parent homes. If their parents married and combined households, nearly three-quarters would be lifted out of poverty immediately.

Hardly the glamorous stuff of the tabloids, eh? Even if they manage to live above the poverty line, most deliberately single moms are choosing a life of economic struggle.

If Jolie and Pitt really want to combat poverty, as they claim, they'd set an example by getting married and encouraging others to do the same before having kids.

Pin It
Submit to Reddit

Comments (5)

Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

Creative Loafing encourages a healthy discussion on its website from all sides of the conversation, but we reserve the right to delete any comments that detract from that. Violence, racism and personal attacks that go beyond the pale will not be tolerated.

Search Events

Photo Galleries

» more slideshows
items in Creative Loafing Charlotte More in Creative Loafing Charlotte pool

© 2018 Womack Newspapers, Inc.
Powered by Foundation