July 19, 2014


Babies Now, Marriage Later: A Failed Strategy for the Poor : New Harvard study confirms what most Americans know but would rather not acknowledge. (MARK GORDON, July 17, 2014, Aleteia)

A recently released study of social mobility conducted by researchers at Harvard University confirms what most Americans know but would rather not acknowledge: the children of single-parent households are more likely to be poor and less likely to move into the middle or upper classes during their lifetimes than the children of two-parent homes.  

The study, titled "Where is the Land of Opportunity: The Geography of Intergenerational Mobility in the United States," examines the geographical distribution of social mobility, controlling for five factors: racial segregation, income inequality, school quality, social capital, and family structure. According to the authors, "the fraction of children living in single-parent households is the single strongest correlate of upward income mobility among all the variables we explored." In other words without regard to geographical location, whether a child is the product of a single-parent home makes more difference to his or her eventual material success than any other factor.

Moreover, "family structure correlates with upward mobility not just at the individual level but also at the community level, perhaps because the stability of the social environment affects children's outcomes more broadly." Here the researchers are saying that children of single-parent homes tend to inhabit local cultures of fatherlessness, which makes their negative outcomes a community phenomenon, not just an individual one. 

Overall, the study found that social mobility is lowest in the states of the Old South, which not coincidentally is where the highest rates of single-parent families are generally found. Other areas have high percentages of single-parent families, of course, notably major cities; but in regions outside the Old South factors like better quality schools and a greater degree of social capital - private and public services - tend to blunt the effect of single-parenthood on social mobility.  

Opposition to marriage is opposition to decent lives.

Posted by at July 19, 2014 2:04 PM

blog comments powered by Disqus