The Opposite Of Sex

Births among unmarried black girls are plunging. Why? Self-respect, fear of AIDS and love of life

When the National Center for Health Statistics released last week a study of birth figures for 1996, one particular set of facts was heralded as Christmas in July: the birthrate among unmarried black women--74.4 per 1,000 births--represented a 40-year low. Best of all, the turnaround is likely to keep going: the sharpest drop is among 15- to 17-year-olds, whose birthrate has declined 20% since 1990.

Hugh Price, president of the National Urban League, says that while other reports had hinted at the coming good news, "we were caught by surprise." So what may be causing the U turn? The experts aren't...

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