According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 41 percent of live births in the United States in 2008 were to unmarried women.
That translated into 1,726,566 babies born to single mothers. This is a particularly troubling figure because the number of single-parent families seems to be peaking at a time when economics are going to demand a diminishment - and, in some cases, absolute curtailment - of programs designed to assist them.
One does not have to be particularly religious to realize that one of the side effects of the "sexual revolution" has been the diminishment of marriage. Fewer people are getting married, more people are having children outside of marriage.
Marriage has traditionally had a very practical purpose - the protection of women and children. Again, casting aside any religious or moral purposes, marriage played a major role in socializing males - making them participate in the raising of their children and the support of their families.
With the diminishment of government programs to assist, an Associated Press series reports there is the growth of what it terms the "granny state." The "granny state" casts grandparents in the roles of both financial providers and child raisers. According to the AP, about 5.8 million children - or almost 8 percent of all children - live in homes where a grandparent is the head of household.
If over 40 percent of births are to single mothers, the number of children living with grandparents will undoubtedly continue to grow - it is hard enough to raise and support children in a two-parent environment, doubly hard for the single.
This new role for grandparents will be yet one more reason why today's 60-somethings are not looking at anything resembling retirement. The financial demands of raising their grandchildren will keep them in the workforce.
(A version of this editorial has appeared previously in The Maui News.)
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.